Who Are You

Jun 21

I may be a little late in observing this but I find myself looking at the face of Facebook. Like a lot of you many of my friends are those from years past, people I haven’t seen or spoken to in years. But we have a shared history…childhood, junior high, high school…which links us together in a way that is unique. You get excited (for the most part) when someone finds you. You catch up, share emails, and then you go back to the way it was.
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Except they are now on your NewsFeed as you are on theirs. You get to know a lot about each other. You also get to look on one’s profiles and see what he/she likes, which sites, blogs, and people are being followed. It’s a window into what makes each of us tick. Sometimes you may not like what you see, hear, or read. Sometimes you’re surprised. You think, “but we came from the same place, have similar roots, grew up in the same neighborhood, how can we have such divergent views? What experiences have we had since childhood that shaped our opinions today?” Yes, that’s what makes it all so great, that we aren’t living from the same playbook. Yet sometimes you have an “oh wow” moment. You think, “should I go there, should I respond to this comment, should I get into his or her face? Is it worth it?”

Perhaps it is…I’m not sure yet. It can either undermine the whole purpose of Facebook (which is to connect, engage, get personal) if you choose to shut down or tune out because you don’t like what you’re hearing. Or, perhaps it can serve to enhance its purpose. Dialogue is a good thing, no? It can bring about insight, perhaps resolution. Even when it becomes argumentative. This is especially true when it comes to one’s politics. And this where I find Facebook most interesting and challenging. How much do you say? How much do you hold back? You’re not sitting around a dinner table arguing your point or view. (Most likely, those with whom you’re having dinner share similar views; you’re not talking to them on Facebook, you’re picking up the phone, going to their homes. We’re not all as enlightened (or crazy) as Mary Matalan and James Carville.) We’re at our desks or in our homes, typing away on Facebook with exclamation marks and ellipses to underscore a point to people you haven’t seen in years. And, when you don’t have the energy or inclination to really go there, you simply ignore the comment or click on “like”. (I think there should be a dislike option.)

You could almost see a person as he or she is banging away at the keyboard to make a point. Facebook as a political platform for the masses is highlighting something that has been brewing for many years. An anger among those on the right and the left. The moderates (if there are any) are silent for the most part. It’s either one way or the other. Now everyone has a platform to voice their discontent. The question is are we learning from this, or are we just venting and no one is really listening?

14 comments

  1. I have asked myself the same question: How much do I want to engage in political dialogue on Facebook? I am interested to hear other points of view, but find myself turned away by statements made by those who seem absolutely convinced their position is the only correct one.

  2. Kerry Morgan Brady /

    Hi Annie, I loved reading your blog. I think you summed it all up perfectly. I, too, am amazed at the strong opinions people have. I admit I am somewhat ignorant when it comes to politics so it is a topic I don’t engage in often during in person conversations. I will say this, though. It makes me uncomfortable to read heated debates on Facebook. Although it may be fascinating and informative to hear the different viewpoints, for me it’s like going to your favorite bar to relax and enjoy your friends and a barroom brawl breaks out. It spoils my good time. So that’s where I stand on Facebook as a forum for anything other than fun and pleasantries.

  3. Annie George /

    Absolutely. It’s the anger that surprises me.

  4. Annie George /

    Kerry, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. You make an interesting analogy about Facebook…

    Most posts are either fun, informative, and updates on what people are doing…And then one comment made about a particular issue can spur a string of responses, some quite in your face and angry. The jury is still out for me on Facebook as a political platform. While it’s good to get a pulse, a reading of how people think from all over the country, it’s not really the whole picture, because not everyone is speaking up…most just want to have a good time as you say. It’s an eye-opener for me, in any event.

  5. Kim McGraw /

    Facebook has allowed us to reconnect with people from our past. I agree with Kerry. I like Facebook because we can exchange pleasantries and keep it simple.

    I don’t really want to get into politics on Facebook. In my position in magazine sales we steer clear of any discussions about politics and religion.

    I don’t want to feel differently about old friends if we don’t agree.

    Kim M

  6. Ron Williams /

    Considering the fact that 90% of people who own computers are now registered FB users (1% have probably never heard of FB & 9% refuse to join), it is a forum for all topics of discussion, which unfortunately leads to the dissolution of friendships, new and old, based on either religious or political viewpoints. The thing that brings us together also tends to tear us apart…

  7. Annie George /

    It can also lead to new friendships based on religious or political viewpoints.

  8. Diane Omori /

    My good friend Ron posted your blog on his fb wall. I really do agree with Ron here. I think it is kind of sad that people are so serious on fb and friendships have been severed because of ‘off color’ comments that are usually meant as a joke. :)

  9. Ron Williams /

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s healthy for people to have a forum to express their opinions, good or bad. They just have to have the fortitude to understand that not all people will agree with them and some more radical points of view will be expressed by individuals who may or may not have the capacity for social interacting without it becoming a pissing match for those who have hidden agendas, and like to argue simply for the sake of argument. That said, everyone is entitled to an opinion and debate is a good thing, no?

  10. Mike Smith /

    I find useless, boring, & pointless Status Updates to be most annoying on FB. I originally thought that a “dislike” button was a good idea but then realized that it could cause a lot of hurt feelings which would in itself detract from the pleasure of FB.

  11. Jane /

    Yes! Mike Smith said it all… I linked to this a long time back, but have you ever read “18 people to be scared of on Facebook” from GQ Magazine.

    http://www.gq.com/entertainment/humor/201001/scary-facebook-friends-profiles#slide=1

  12. Annie George /

    First time I’ve seen this…very true…

  13. Mary Neilson /

    Annie, I have really enjoyed your blogs and this one on FB has really made me think about some of the recent posts I’ve read. A little too heated for my FB experience. I am in it for the fun of it, FUNBOOK. I want to see pictures of family and friends that I don’t see often enough maybe because of time or distance restaints. FB helps bridge that gap and keep us all connected…coast to coast. I look for certain people’s status updates because I know I’ll find a humorous lift to my day when I need one. I can give a birthday shout out and not feel stressed out that I didn’t get a card in the mail.
    I learned when I was a young person that for the most part you avoid conversations about politics, religion, money & sex. I believe this guideline is best honored in the group/party forum and if friends/people are gathered in smaller groups and politics is the agreed topic, then have at it. But public forums, such as FB, don’t seem to be the place for such discussions. I am sure there are plenty of other places on the internet that specifically welcome that kind of debate. Thanks again Annie for great topics! Mary

  14. Diane Lansing /

    Hey Annie, I’m a newbie to spending any time on Face Book and I like the reconnection with old friends that has occurred because of it.
    I prefer your Blog as a forum for political opinions and keen (your) observations. It’s like having a smart moderator in a debate, we tend to learn more this way instead of people dumping.
    It’s funny though how some of the most trite day to day comments can sometimes hit a sweet chord and if I’m feeling bitchy and not wanting to read it all, guess what, I don’t log on!

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