Over the last few days I’ve come upon posts on my Facebook Home page written by people who think Facebook has an obligation in terms of what’s expected, what should be posted there, presented along the lines of “I thought Facebook was supposed to be a place to _______!”
At least two commenters complained about political comments, links to related issues; the starting and maintaining of political threads. Someone said said she wanted everyone to shut up about politics and just post “nice stuff,” family pictures, etc. Another even went so far as to denigrate those who discuss and debate cultural issues (referring to the mention of defriending due to racist comments), claiming that Facebook should only be a place for empowering missives, uplifting text, good thoughts, happy, life-affirming links and pictures, etc.
Listen, like anyone else I sometimes get weary of the repetitive political rhetoric, the posting of what feels to be redundant material, screeds that scream across the aisle at each other. (I think I even mentioned stepping out of the arena in terms of this interminable Presidential campaign!) I don’t support calling each other names or baiting, shoving, pushing in that bullyish way that incites rather than inspires (in-your-face anti-Republican, anti-Liberal, anti-fill-in-the-blank sort of stuff fits the category!). There are a few of my friends who could stand to “mix it up” in terms of the tone and subject matter of what they post, certainly, but….
One of the things I LOVE about Facebook – beyond anything Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media has to offer – is the sense of community; the coffee house, the salon, the gathering place for people to get together, share ideas, debate issues; show each other pictures of kids and vacations; spread the word about great shows and art exhibits; argue about politics and culture; encourage each other during illness and sit shiva together; just generally share conversation (longer than 140 characters!), SHARE LIFE. Yes, even sometimes rant about politics! In small towns and neighborhoods this is actually done in person, but in the big, huge neighborhood of the World In Which We Live, Facebook has become that gathering place.
Given that, I, personally, would hate a Facebook filled only with fluff and flowers, just as I would a Facebook co-opted entirely by spouting radicals. I WANT the mix. I want a “coffee house” where I can CHOOSE whether to sit at the table where they’re talking about fabric for quilts, catching us up on the kids, or getting into it over cultural and political issues.
And as it is, Facebook gives us that choice, all of us. We can hides stories we don’t want to read, unsubscribe from posters we don’t appreciate, or – God forbid – defriend those who cross far too many lines to stay. We can write about empowerment or politics and find the crowd that responds to such things. NO ONE is obligated to join – even read – a thread that doesn’t appeal to them, and that’s the beauty of it. We each get to come to this coffee house and experience it as we choose.
I, personally, wouldn’t want it any other way.
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