I try to stay off Facebook first thing in the morning. I’ve learned it’s not a great way to start my day. But today I didn’t listen to my own advice. My phone was right there beside me while I was waiting for my coffee to brew. “Just a quick look,” I thought.
I hit that welcoming button and it took me right to Facebookland.
I saw a cute puppy post. Liked it.
I saw that a donkey, who needed a home or he would be euthanized today, found that new home. That made me happy and so, I liked it.
I saw a friend holding her newly born grandson. Loved that one.
And then I scrolled down.
There it was.
A meme making fun of two of the Parkland shooting survivors. Ridiculing them for being activists and standing up and speaking out against gun violence.
Who would post this? Not someone I want to be friends with! And my finger was poised to push the delete button.
This is someone I like. This is someone I respect. This is someone I care about.
My heart sunk into my chest and my stomach started doing flip-flops.
Within 90 seconds, my whole morning had been ruined.
Again, my gut reaction was to delete this person from my “friends” list.
However, I stopped and tried to reason with myself:
Would I let this person in my house spewing hatred like this? Would I welcome them to stay, have coffee, maybe some lunch?
Emphatically HELL NO!
I would tell them to leave and show them to the door.
What’s the difference then? If I wouldn’t want to hear or see this propaganda in person, why would I accept seeing it on social media? It’s similar, right?
My second thought was to send a message telling this person how hurtful this meme is and how it doesn’t help the issue at hand–the school shootings and the fact that children are being killed. It actually helps to further polarize all of us.
I knew I did not want to comment on the post, because that’s when people start attacking and I feel that absolutely nothing gets accomplished in that way. Usually this just creates a social media shitshow.
Maybe I should get off Facebook for a while? But why should I be the one to leave? Have I caused harm? I certainly try not to.
Besides, I like Facebook (mostly). I enjoy seeing friends’ posts about nature, plants, their families, vacations, work, hobbies, and pets.
So no, I’m not going to leave. I’ve done enough cutting off my nose to spite my face in my lifetime.
Should I unfollow this person? What good is it to be Facebook friends with them if I don’t see their posts?
Social media is tricky. There’s a lot to think about when engaging online.
In the past when I’ve seen inflammatory posts like this I have immediately deleted the person from my friends list.
Once when I didn’t delete, but decided to send a private message of concern, that person (a close blood relative) deleted me.
I’m not talking about posts that I disagree with or go against the way I think. I’m ok with that. I can scroll past and forget about it. I’m talking about hateful, mean-spirited, hurtful posts.
I don’t want this kind of negativity in my life. Anywhere in my life, including online. I respect others’ opinions as long as they are respectful of others’ opinions.
I had to get this out and think about it.
Now I know what I have to do.
Can we please learn to engage in the art of civil discourse once again? Stooping low to ridicule, intimidate, and threaten others who are trying to promote necessary change is not beneficial to anyone. Especially our children.
Photograph of statue in a park, Lewes, UK, 2013.