Facebook Statuses, Perceptions, and Responsiblity
Last year I met Mark.
Mark and I hit it off great. He just started teaching high school and I did that for a couple years, so we traded war stories. For a whole afternoon we shared tales and complained about the ridiculousness that can be public education.
Later in the week I got a Facebook friend request from him and accepted it. Why wouldn’t I?
Then I learned that for him Facebook was an outlet where he poured out his utter contempt of all things religious and conservative. Every sardonic post was heavy with disdain for those ignorant morons who did not share his view. They hate science. They hate gays. They hate reason. They hate women. They hate…they hate…they hate. With as much bile, sarcasm and mockery that one could muster he decried the “hate” of those who differed with him.
I didn’t mind. I have no problem with people who have strong opinions that differ from mine. Even when they hatefully accuse those who share my views as ignorant, stupid, and…um…hateful.
But then I realized something. After a few months, whenever I thought of Mark I didn’t think of that guy that had a great conversation with me. I thought solely of his Facebook rants. Facebook, and the way he used it, were altering my perception. I began to have this image of a hate-filled, belligerent Mark. Filled with rage and mockery. Why would I want to ever be friends with a guy like that?
Even though he may feel this strongly about certain issues, they do not encapsulate his personality. Yes, they are part of him…and I disagree with him on these issues profoundly. But Facebook was reducing him to a characture of himself.
So I hid his updates.
I have to date, hidden a few people for the same reason. Not because I disagree with them, but because I realized Facebook statuses were replacing their personalities as mental icons. And that’s not really the way they are.
I’m learning that social media not only requires wisdom in representing yourself accurately, but also in what you read. Our perceptions are easily skewed.
About KeithChristian, Conservative, Husband, Father, Writer.
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