The Facebook Effect

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Normally I’m a fairly positive person, but the past few months, I have noticed that I have been a tad on the cranky side. I don’t like being cranky. So eight days ago, I decided to get to the bottom of this and do a bit of self examination.

I started keeping conscious track of the weather, sleep patterns, conversations I have, what I eat, what I do, basically everything in my life.

I have come to the startling conclusion that it is Facebook that has been making me cranky! Well, not Facebook per se, but some of the things people are writing that I read. Those people, my Facebook ‘friends’, are often real life friends. Others are people I know, perhaps not well…..but as I look through my ‘friend’ list, I have a lot of people on there that I knew as a kid, or young adult. I really don’t know them now. Nor do they know me. They did, at one point in my life, but they really don’t know much about me now, (although if they are following this blog, that will change)….or anything about my journey. The same is true in the reverse.

Some have made a effort …as have I…to stay in touch over the years. Others have reconnected through Facebook, one of the benefits of social networking.

It’s a blessing and a curse, this Facebook phenomenon. I am not weak minded and tend not to follow the crowd. I consider myself well informed; I value other people’s opinions even if I don’t agree; and am a huge proponent of free speech. I enjoy a good debate, when it is based on fact, not emotion or speculation…..which brings me to the crankiness I have been experiencing lately.

Let me say, right up front, that I do not expect everyone to agree with me, or my opinions. I also know it is unrealistic to be continually upbeat and positive all the time. Living doesn’t allow for that. Living, really living, has ups, downs, bright spots and great darkness. We cannot appreciate the calm if there are never any storms.

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I have had a couple of people mention that I am on Facebook ‘a lot’…..I call them “lurkers”. They are also on a lot but like many soap opera fans, they don’t want people to know they are there…watching, so they lurk, but seldom contribute. If you know how often I am on Facebook, the conclusion is that you are too…otherwise how do you know how often I am on? You are only fooling yourselves lurkers!

I enjoy Facebook. I like seeing pictures of your family, knowing your likes and dislikes, and what makes your life interesting. I also only have one person on my list of Facebook friends that I have never met in person. That’s the way I want it. I don’t want friends of friends unless I know you. I also don’t add people that ignore me, or are rude to me in real life, so stop sending me requests. I don’t want you ‘peeking in my windows’ , at least not without leaving the comfort of your home.

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I digress.

There is so much negativity in the world already. Listen to the radio, watch TV, read a newspaper or news magazine and it’s there. For me, Facebook is an escape from the negativity for awhile each day. It’s like a coffee club that meets each morning just for the sheer enjoyment and pleasure of each others company .  Most of us enjoy the friendly banter that goes on from ‘wall’ to ‘wall’. That doesn’t mean I don’t discuss current events, including the bad stuff. I am a sucker for a good political debate and am quick to offer my opinion on the latest human tragedy happening in our world.

What is making me cranky are the constant negative posts I see. The “gossip” type things. I try hard not to gossip, even though it is human nature and I am not always successful. I truly believe that I wasn’t placed here on earth to judge anyone and I try to live by that every day. Having said that, let’s be clear. I don’t live my life wearing rose coloured glasses.

However,  here it comes…. not everything evil or bad that happens in the world is a conspiracy. Before you post something as fact, check to make sure it is true. Your opinion, as mine, is not fact. It is an opinion. There is a huge difference. We have to struggle everyday to figure out what is fact and what is opinion when watching the news. The lines have blurred and journalism has become reporting and between those two things is also a difference, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant.

It’s not what gets posted as much as how it is posted….sort of like the “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it” argument. I don’t care if you agree or disagree with my opinion. I do care when you try to convince people that your opinion is fact.

I was called to the principal’s office in high school once because I had challenged the teacher on the mark she had given me…and others…. on an assignment. We were asked to give our opinion on what we thought the author had meant with a certain part of a book.

When I got my paper back, I was stunned to see a ‘C’. Respectfully, I stated that everyone in class should have gotten an “A”. The teacher responded that I was out of line…and way off base concerning what the author had meant. I argued that our assignment was not to determine what the author meant, but that we had been specifically asked for our opinion on what the author meant. Two totally separate assignments from where I sat.

My point is , that since I discovered what…or who… is making me cranky, I have considered deleting those people, or leaving Facebook altogether.

However, now that I know the facts, I can deal with them. I, from this day on, will ignore the negative energy generated. It doesn’t mean anything about them or their posts will change, but I can. I won’t give voice to the negativity because I will no longer comment on those types of posts.

I am responsible for the energy I bring into my own space as well as what I bring to yours. I alone can control my mood and I alone can chose whether or not to participate in putting negative energy into a world that needs all the positivity it can get.

By the way, I know that none of you ‘lurkers’ read my blog either.

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