Over the years, I’ve developed what can only be described as a love-hate relationship with Facebook. In the beginning it just seemed like the trendy thing to do. Everyone else was doing it—may as well hop on the social media bandwagon. Though I don’t regret my original decision, it’s nevertheless become painfully evident to me that Facebook has great potential for making us stupid.
From the beginning I recognized that Facebook was an inadequate platform to engage in serious subjects. I stayed away from controversy for that reason. For me, Facebook was more of a creative outlet than a source of credible information. It was like a combination of an artist’s sketch pad, and a graffiti wall. In that context, it was easy to have fun with it.
As time went on, I saw that some of my FB friends were tackling more serious subjects. I could understand that. Posting an endless parade of pictures of your favorite restaurant, recent vacation, and your funny cat must get tedious after a while. So why not express a few thoughts every now and then?
Unfortunately I don’t often see actual thinking taking place. Not that thinking is a prerequisite. Hey, I appreciate an occasional off-the-wall post as much as the next goofball. But when it comes to posting perspectives on serious issues of the day, I mostly see little more than bogus narratives in the form of digital images intended to promote a political agenda. I think I’m supposed to be impressed by these virtual pronouncements of dubious authority. I know it’s not intentional, but it kind of insults my intelligence. C’mon, it’s a jpeg image, not a sociopolitical dissertation.
I’m reminded of a brief essay my dad wrote in the Fall of 2001 titled Think. He wrote, “People do far too many things without thinking.” I doubt if anyone would disagree. As for myself, I spend a lot of time thinking about a lot of different things. I always have. It’s a trait my dad and I have shared. Like him, “I consider the activity of thinking to be priceless.”
So what do I think about my Facebook friends? The best friends I’ve had throughout my life have been people who were never afraid to speak their minds, even if they were opposed to my own views. I’ve been dismayed by a select few who have unfriended me because my thoughts didn’t conform with theirs. It’s a common practice in the Facebook world, but when it comes from people I know, it’s a little disillusioning. I’m not comfortable with the idea that I may be associating with people who use my thoughts as a gauge of whether or not they’re willing to communicate with me. Cutting yourself off from others who have opinions that oppose your own is the stuff of dictatorships and cults.
Communication is my solution to just about everything. Let’s have more of it, not less—free, uninhibited communication. But I have one modest request to add. Put some thought into it every once in a while.
Like if you agree.