I used to use a CB radio when I traveled a lot. It was the manual version, and forerunner, of the GPS. I learned the lingo and chatted with truckers and other CB’ers along the way. CB’s were useful for keeping up with all kinds of road conditions, rest stops, accidents, tourist attractions, directions and “Smokies”(Highway Patrol) locations. Everyone was kind and helpful. And we laughed a lot.
Then the service plunged into darkness. I started hearing horrible cussing, name-calling, insults, prostitutes soliciting customers, customers soliciting prostitutes and worse. The denigration was sad. I stopped using my CB and yanked it out of my car. CB users’ only connection or interaction with others was on that radio. Talk about superficial!
In my opinion Facebook is headed down the same ugly highway. One of the main reasons lots of folks use it, in my opinion, is because they can say anything they want, about anyone without any accountability. It opens the door for verbal and emotional abuse, hate speech and ugliness.
I joined FB years ago to keep in touch with friends I don’t live near, old high school friends, former students and church friends. My FB friends share stories, milestones, accomplishments, blessings, kindness, photos, videos and lots more positive things they feel led to share. Our pastor posts on his FB page regularly. His posts are always positive, encouraging and uplifting. I enjoy reading them all.
Facebook’s platform has allowed folks to accomplish lots of good, humanitarian, kind and helpful things for lots of people. But the denigration, anger, judgment and personal attacks on FB overshadow the good and cheapen the platform, in my view.
For example, from my recent, limited use of FB:
- A friend of mine uses FB occasionally to vent frustrations and vitriol against people who have disappointed them or made them angry.
I read comments that ridicule and abuse others.
- Now and again I run across foul language and explicit acts I can’t mention.
- I read some comments attacking their FB friends and friends of friends.
- Occasionally I accidentally run across Adult posts. I report them immediately.
- I see fake ads and fake promotions and fake promises for rewards and prize money.
- I recently read a post from someone who sounded as if they were about to commit suicide. Some comments were encouraging and offered support and links to helpful suicide counseling agencies. One comment, however, encouraged the young man to commit suicide in some hateful hyper-critical language.
- Until a few years ago I occasionally ran across posts that claimed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair was organizing an effort to have “In God we trust” removed from all government buildings and currency. These claims were posted years after her death.
Despite the positive, encouraging posts, pictures and videos I read from friends, the disgusting social media compels me to rethink the value of FB for me. I see more and more reasons to severely limit my participation and interest in FB, for the same reason I uninstalled the CB radio in my car.
A blogging friend of mine, who has experienced the same vitriol on her blog wrote this list of rules for etiquette for FB and social media. I think they’re great rules. I’d like to see more folks follow them.
“For those of you who need a lesson in online etiquette, remember the following:
• Do not post anything you would not want said to you
• There are real people on the other end of that keyboard, so remember their feelings
• If you do not agree with someone, do not respond right away. Step away and come back to it.
• There is no need for name-calling. You are supposedly an adult and should know a better way to get your point across.
• If you can’t do any of the above, then keep your comments to yourself.