Social media is a great place to stay connected with friends, family, famous people, cool people you’ve never met, as well as keeping up-to-date on news, world events,  and so on and so forth. It is also a great outlet for thoughts, ideas, and opinions. But this can also lead to some interesting insight into people you thought you knew, as well as the utter cruelty and insensitivity of totally strangers.

 

Let’s start with “censorship”, of a sort.

Unless you have certain settings on your Facebook account, for example, all the people you are friends with will see what you post. This also means that sometimes, those same people my make a comment on your post that you may like, for whatever reason. Thankfully, we have control over what is posted and commented about. If someone is derogatory, spouts hateful speech, or continually fills you pages with negativity, then that person isn’t any kind of friend. Whatever reason they are there isn’t a good one. This is when you can delete their comments, unfriend them, or flat-out block them. If such a person is a so-called “friend”, then eliminating them from your timeline is a great way to remove the negativity.

Now what if someone made a joke about a comment you made, or about a picture you posted? It’s nothing hateful, no real malice is intended. Would you delete their comment? Unfriend them? Block them? Maybe, if you’re a humourless tool.

Like in real life, people on social media, like your friends, co-workers, acquaintances, family members, or whoever, may say something that rubs you the wrong way, or don’t find as funny as they do. If we are petty and stupid, we may snap back, or over-react. I speak from experience when I say this because I used to be like that. I still may not like what people say, but getting pissy don’t solve anything. If it something of a more serious nature, something hitting close-to-home, something that hurts you, then that other person should be told. If they do care for you as a friend or even if they are a decent human being, they’ll apologize for their comment.

If we can’t deal with people posting things online that we don’t like, how can we deal with real people in real life? Although both are different, they can reflect on each other.

 

“Threats to our Beliefs”.

A while back, I befriended a guy I knew many years ago. He was a fun, loud, funny guy and I always enjoyed his company. But between the time I last saw him and recently, he had found God. I thought that was cool. Anything that can bring you happiness is a-ok in my book. He was still the fun, loud, funny guy, but this extra thing was now a part of his life. No big deal.

The thing was, with his big, out-going personality, he also liked to post religious things, especially stuff taking jabs at science (him being a Creationist, or at least following that idea). That’s fine too! A little debate about such things can be fun and enlightening , especially when both sides can toss in a little humour. But as time went on, he had less and less humour in his responses. Then one day, I was unfriended, and blocked! Thus ending the debates, I guess.

Sadly, I must admit to blocking people when anger got the better of me. It was akin to walking off in a huff, especially when it wasn’t anything overly serious. In this case though, he obviously took something seriously. So much so that he walked off in a huff, taking his toys with him.

Now if I had been purposefully attacking him for his beliefs (which I never did), then I can understand his actions. If I was that much of a prick, I’d shut me out too. But here’s the catch. He was always posting something about his beliefs and religion. He was proud of his faith. But some of his posts begged for debate! I wasn’t the only one to do so either! Which begs the question, why post something if others are gonna say stuff you don’t like? Why instigate a confrontation, then act like a victim when people question your post and the ideas/ beliefs behind it?

I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands of posts, or pics, stating how great a person’s religion is without instigating a debate that you will see as an attack on your beliefs. If you are going to be vocal about anything, religious or not, be prepared to take some heat.

 

“Online bravado”

I’m sure you’ve seen people mouthing off online. They tell someone off, mock their favourite sport team, say something inflammatory, etc. I especially like the people who are vulgar, crude, or just flat-out mean to people. They believe the anonymity of the internet will protect them. After all, they are just words on a screen. Then, if attacked for what they say, they pull the ol’ “Freedom of Speech” chestnut out, ensuring they can continue to be assholes.

For me, my rule is simple. If you can’t say it to the person’s face, then you shouldn’t say it at all. People were whispering things about other people behind their backs since before prehistoric ape-men climbed down from the trees. These days, it’s done online. Either way, it’s cowardly.

It is also shocking what people will say to someone else online! I often wonder if it’s a self-deluded sense of entitlement that makes people say such things. Or maybe, they are just so socially inept and/or ignorant that they have no clue what decorum and civility are. The best example of some of these people are the ones who join a fan page for a sport team, only to burn and insult that sports team. Do they really have nothing better to do with their time than join a web page of a sports team they don’t like, just so they can mock it and the site’s fans? Are their lives so pathetically dull that this is the highlight of their day? These people remind me of the Germans in World War II who just went along with the Nazis just so they could be on the winning team.

 

All three of these things, censorship, threats to ones beliefs, online bravado, have one thing in common; people who are clueless to how social media and the internet really work. They forget that no matter how personal you Facebook page is, it isn’t yours. It, and its contents, belong to Facebook. It’s the same with other social media sites. We falsely belief they are our pages. But in truth, they are just a means to determine what demographic you belong to, so they’ll know what to suggest you “Like”. More importantly, no matter what you privacy settings, your pics, your comments, your info, is out there.

If you don’t want your comments and posts questioned, if you don’t like what other people have to say about something you love, if you have nothing positive to say, then maybe you should get offline, and stay offline.

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