I don’t blog often, but I keep this thing around because every once in a while, there’s something that needs to be said. Today is one of those times.
I have a real love/hate relationship with social media, Facebook in particular. I love it because, since we do not live near any of our family, it allows me to keep up with everyone’s lives and affords me the opportunity to share what’s going on in our life. It also allows me to keep up with blogs and sites I like, businesses I support and other organizations that I care about, all in one spot, so it’s super convenient. To me that is Facebook’s primary and best use. But there is a real downside to Facebook, too. And that’s what I’m addressing today. From my perspective it stems from an increasing number of people forgetting what social media is and how it really works. Or even worse, maybe they haven’t forgotten; maybe they just don’t care.
People have made political posts on Facebook for years and as this year is slated to be the most contentious presidential election in modern history, those posts are only going to increase in the coming months. I’m no censor and I’m not trying to tell anybody what they should or shouldn’t post. But because of recent negative interactions I have personally experienced, I do feel obligated to offer this friendly reminder to all-your posts don’t exist in a vacuum.
People see what you share. Your kids, your parents, your next door neighbor, that guy from the gym, your coworker from two jobs ago and Sue from high school that you forgot you were friends with. All of us see your posts. We see the photos of your vacation (and we’re jealous), your kid-isms, how you rocked your workout today. We see that inspirational quote you shared, your Flashback Fridays, and that meme that illustrates the proper way to hang toilet paper (there IS only one way, unless you have pets, then we’ll give you a pass 😉)
We also see you trashing candidates and elected officials. We see your posts that demonize half of your fellow citizens, all with a single click. We see your Photoshopped pictures, your “headlines”, and your Sam Elliot memes informing us that if we believe XYZ, well that makes us a special kind of stupid. We may not comment or like, especially if we disagree with what you have to say. But make no mistake, WE SEE. And as a result, the way we view you is constantly evolving, often not for the better.
I can’t claim to have a perfect record when it comes to engaging in political or controversial discussions online. I sometimes comment on other people’s threads; sometimes I even have quite a bit to say. One thing I don’t do, however, is share low-blow memes proclaiming all Democrats to be brainless or all Republicans to be soulless. And it’s not because I’m some holier than thou being that doesn’t privately think those things, too. I don’t make such posts because I know that Facebook is not my diary. And I know that people I love, people I like and that guy from the gym are all paying attention. I know that what I say online reflects just as much on my character as what I say in person. Maybe even more so.
So, Facebook Friend, post away! Turn your Facebook page into your very own political billboard if you want. But if you do, don’t be surprised when you get negative feedback. Don’t get angry when someone points out the photos are fake, or that your “facts” aren’t. Don’t act indignant when the day arrives that someone else decides to Sam Elliot YOU. Because when it comes to social media, the operative word is social. And every post you make, no matter the topic, is an invitation to others to respond. Keep posting. Just remember, I can see that. We all can.