So here’s the thing:
A lot of people don’t have a good word to say about Facebook, and I get that. Over the years, it’s evolved from a place where we shared photos of our family, friends, celebrations and travels into a collection of shared posts with very little original material.
Scrolling through Facebook is a lot like sifting through junk mail. The ads and sponsored posts drive me crazy, as do people’s insistence on sharing their political beliefs.
I could feel my blood boiling after reading one woman’s post after the State of the Union address, and nearly posted a comment before getting ahold of myself. Anyone who jumps into the fray in a political argument on Facebook is open to verbal attacks and ridicule and I want no part of that.
But just for the record, social media brings out the bully in a lot of people. It’s easy to make fun of people or take cheap shots when you’re hiding behind a computer screen. But consider this: just because someone disagrees with you or supports a different political party does not mean they’re stupid. And suggesting that they’re stupid, foolish or ignorant says a lot more about your character than your support of a certain candidate.
Here’s an adage that summarizes my feelings on the subject:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
— ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Like a lot of people on Facebook, I trash it: it’s a major time suck, an opportunity for people to post photos of their adventures, brag about their kids, make us jealous with their tropical photos of freshly manicured toes in sand in the dead of winter, and worse still, close-ups of their five-course meal.
But my stance softened when Facebook compiled a video tracing some of my highlights since I joined in 2008. Back in the early days, everyone shared photos of their kids, and I realized that Facebook had traced my kids’ childhood. My daughter was 6 and my son was 10 when I joined. I’d forgotten how many special moments I’d shared: my daughter’s First Communion, my son’s baseball games, my tennis team’s Christmas gathering, and even the dog donning a silly plaid raincoat.
Watching the video to the strains of sentimental music reminiscent of the “Terms of Endearment” theme song brought me to tears. There were so many good memories in that video that I realized that Facebook isn’t all bad. In fact, it could be really good again if people would stop trashing it and get back to what made it great in the early days.
The best part about Facebook are the personal connections. Yea, it’s social media, but it allows you to be in touch with people – however remotely – who you’ve known throughout your life. My Facebook web includes my cousins, distant relatives, childhood friends, former co-workers and high school and college classmates.
I attended a high school reunion for the first time a few years ago because of Facebook. The organizers used Facebook to generate interest and support leading up to the event and it worked. Somehow being part of the process made it very appealing, so I went and had a great time. I’m pretty sure I would’ve sat it out had it not been for Facebook.
Facebook is also a great way to disseminate information quickly and efficiently. Over the years, I’ve used it as I would a newspaper, sharing information so people know about deaths in the family or other pressing matters. Facebook has proved invaluable in this way, sparing families the ordeal of calling distant relatives and friends when a crisis hits. For this, I’m very grateful.
Wishing people a happy birthday on Facebook doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I think it’s a nice thing to do. The only exception to this was when one of my sisters used Facebook to wish me a happy birthday. I told her that I expected a call, and she hasn’t made that mistake again. Yea, I’m her older sister.
Facebook is also a great way to share my blog with readers who wouldn’t follow me on WordPress. In the beginning, WordPress had a button that let you automatically share your blog on Facebook. About a year into it, that changed and WordPress told bloggers they’d have to share their posts by copying and pasting a link to Facebook. “Are they kidding?,” I thought.
Some bloggers didn’t bother after the switch, but I always make a point of copying and pasting. It takes a second, and is a good way to share with an audience who isn’t on WordPress. Plus, I need all the followers I can get.
Like a lot of things in life, people love to criticize Facebook while at the same time checking in with it every day. For me, it’s a bit of a habit: I check it in the morning after I check my email and texts and before I see if there’s been any action on WordPress.
But I think it’s up to all of us to make it a better place to spend (waste?) our time.
What do I mean?
- Post some original material. My sister posted a photo of her German shepherd Dakota smiling last week that was a real pick-me-up. Post things that you think will bring a smile to someone’s face.
- Stop lurking in the shadows and make your presence known. Yea, we know you check your Facebook page on a regular basis, though you don’t want anyone to know it. Stop being such a voyeur and join the party.
- Resist the temptation to post pithy quotes all the time. You’re a creative person: just tell us what’s on your mind.
- Stop posting photos of your food.
- Continue to use Facebook to poll people. One Facebook friend just asked people for their mattress recommendations. What a great way to get information quickly and efficiently for an expensive item (by the way, we bought a Therapedic BackSense Juno mattress at a high school fundraiser for our daughter’s band trip. It’s awesome.)
- Don’t be mean or condescending. Honestly, I can’t believe how rude some people are when making comments on Facebook, particularly on our town’s Facebook page. (See quote above by Abraham Lincoln.)
- Don’t take cheap shots. Take the high road, or you will be unfriended.
- Be forgiving. One Facebook friend routinely unfriends people when they don’t respond to his posts or wish him a happy birthday. When I went days without seeing any of his posts, I checked. Yea, I’ve been unfriended too.
- Don’t be stingy with your likes. Everyone likes to be liked, so take a second and make someone’s day.
- As with all things in life, take the good with the bad. After all, it’s only Facebook.