Saturday, April 1, 2017

Do you know your friends on FB? (and do you care?)

A drawback of being on Facebook is that people you meet and like ask, "Are you on Facebook?" and you say, "Of course!" and you promise to keep in touch that way, through Facebook;  because Facebook is SO much easier than writing actual email messages, and nobody writes LETTERS any more and Facebook is a casual means of maintaining a relationship.

Maintaining a relationship with someone via Facebook is riskier because we are more blunt when communicating electronically and often we say things that we wouldn't when talking to somebody IRL (there have been studies, and I'm sure I could find one online, but right now I want to refer you to None of the Old Rules Apply by Dave Eggers, pp 191-211 in What We Do Now, edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians).  Over the past few months I have been tempted to "unfriend" people when I learn their politics differ from mine.  On Presidents' Day I changed my profile pic to a picture of President Obama and a friend disliked it.  Somebody asked her "why?" and she didn't respond.  We can only imagine that she didn't like looking at his face.  I'd posted as my status that I was going to do this on Presidents' Day, but she wanted to express unhappiness (which I actually registered as disgust) with my opinion.

I did not engage with this friend. Perhaps I should have.  But I don't really know her.  She was on a trip I took 6 years ago;  she was a grieving widow, and her daughter was taking her to a country she knew well.  We got along well enough on the trip, where everything was new and different, and we met a few months later when she came to New York to meet somebody who had flown in from Spain (one of the countries we visited).  We've never seen each other since, and I don't expect we ever shall.
So I didn't say anything.

A former coworker "liked" a post "Black Labs Matter" "All Labs Matter" and my stomach turned.  This woman should know better.  Maybe she just thought the picture of the Labrador Retriever was cute and was completely clueless to the political implications.  It's possible.

I thought about responding, but it was a post from somebody I didn't know, and....

Perhaps I am a coward.

I don't respond to conservative posts from Facebook friends, because I suspect that it is too easy for feelings to be hurt and for people to misread my comments, but perhaps I should respond.  Perhaps not responding just allows us all to continue to live in our bubbles, where everything is really awful right now because the world outside pushed through and ruined our illusions.

Also, not responding, not seeing is a privilege.  I can say "I don't think she really meant it that way," and walk on.  And perhaps it's time that we all stripped ourselves of that privilege.

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