I seem to have gotten a little crusty in my retired old age.
These past two weeks I’ve been a bit testy with both my conservative Friends and my socialist Friends on Facebook. Folks on both ends of the spectrum have pissed me off — which is unusual because I normally welcome differing perspectives. I believe discussion and spirited debate are good things, if conducted with civility of course. Having just retired on July 1st, it’s occurred to me that perhaps I haven’t yet released the stress but instead have redirected it. Could be. It’s not easy to just flip the switch after years in a pressure cooker. I’ll meditate on this.
Whatever the reason, this moment of introspection seems a good time to stop and rethink my social media. What do I want to do with it now that I’ve got more time? And what don’t I want to do with it? One thing I definitely do not want is to be a cranky old curmudgeon. My apologies to anyone I offended.
“We need to regain the art of civil discourse and more practically, I don’t think you can change anyone’s mind by calling them names.” -Scott Petrow
Facebook is Like Thanksgiving Dinner
I’m active on multiple platforms, but Facebook is the one I share in common with most people I know.
I’m Friends with a diverse collective on Facebook. This includes family, friends, neighbors, former coworkers, acquaintances, and a few people I’ve never met in person. They’re young and old, gay and straight, of all races, of all religious persuasions and all political persuasions. They live in the United States, China, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines and elsewhere. Some stretch back to kindergarten, elementary school, high school and college.
Scrolling through Facebook is not always pleasant. It reflects divisions and polarization of our society. As I said, my Friends are a diverse collective and we definitely do not see eye to eye on all things.
I view Facebook a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve gathered together from distant places, each with different lives, experiences and perspectives — yet we share a common bond in friendship. Thanksgiving dinner is not a place I want to argue, nor is Facebook. I want to have a good time, which requires being mindful of people’s feelings and sensibilities.
For this reason, beginning today I am channeling my social media content into designated platforms. People can join me on any or all of these platforms, depending on what they wish to see and not see.
My Guiding Principles
Underlying everything are a few core principles I hold.
- Mutual Respect & Civility. Social media can bring us together, or it can rip us apart — anti-social media, as it were. This doesn’t mean we all have to agree, and frankly that gets boring after a while. But we at least need to give other space and ultimately ‘agree to disagree’ if necessary.
- Facts. Social media can unfortunately be a petri dish for every crackpot notion out there. I try to always fact check before I share or re-post something, even when it coincides with my opinion. Just because I agree doesn’t guarantee it’s true. And in my blog I try to provide links to source references. Sometimes, however, a debate isn’t about what a fact means, but whether a given “fact” is indeed actually a fact. Is it really true? These discussions can get difficult, so remember Point #1.
- Opinion. I think it’s important to distinguish opinion and beliefs from facts. Opinions and beliefs are fine, and they aren’t necessarily provable. They’re opinion, after all. I try to be clear when I’m stating an opinion versus asserting a hard fact. The reader can then decide whether to agree.
My Social Media Platforms
Going forward I intend to channel specific types of content in my social media to designated platforms.
Facebook is that big Thanksgiving dinner I spoke of, so henceforth I will avoid posting overtly political or other items that could likely upset or offend people. I will, however, make an exception for humor and satire. It’s hard to pass up a good Onion article or a timely cartoon.
Twitter, on the other hand, is no holds barred. My Twitter feed is fully public and anyone who wants to can view it without having their own account. You can also see my Twitter feed right here at my blog. It’s to the right (►) if viewing this on computer or below (▼) on mobile.
Just Sayin’ 2.0, is my blog you’re viewing now, hosted on WordPress. Here I take up any and all issues at length. Comments are welcome! This Sunday night I will start a new weekly series — ‘Random Snippets‘ — containing brief items of the sort I no longer post to Facebook.
BobLaycock.com is my website hosted on PageCloud. It features sections covering an eclectic array of topics including my grandfather’s historic journey along China’s Great Wall in 1908. There’s also a section covering meditation & mindfulness, and one focused on LGBT issues.
LinkedIn. I joined LinkedIn back in my working days. I didn’t use it much then and don’t plan to now during retirement — but that could change. I’m in the process of setting up an LLC for possible consulting or other work down the road. If and when this happens, you’ll see it there.
A Request to my Facebook Friends: If you have a comment I encourage you to enter it below instead of on Facebook. This way everyone can participate in the conversation!
A Request to Everyone: All opinions are welcome. I only ask that we remain civil and respectful of one another.