Dr. Steven Covey states in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” that responsibility is simply the ability to respond to outside stimuli without putting your whole foot in your mouth while doing so. Easily said, but not so easily done when dealing with Facebook and other social media. I am not picking on Facebook, but it seemed a good place to start considering the idiotic things that go on there while stopping in for a FB Internet visit.
We all know the history of Facebook and how Mark Zuckerberg stabbed anyone and everyone in the back with a rusty knife to get the company to where it is now. With a name like Zuckerberg, you know there is a sucker born every day and Mark isn’t one of them. After all, he is a billionaire with pimples still adorning his face.
But, I wander…this blog is about how to live through the Facebook experience without actively pursuing someone with a rope, gun or other deadly weapon to enact revenge for something said in jest that was less than funny to you.
As with all printed words; the exact meaning of a sentence cannot possibly be interpreted correctly even with fonts, capitals and exclamation marks, especially if the sentence is all small case with numerous unintelligible shortcuts. I don’t want to dwell on the shortcut phenomena, but suffice to say that it not only sucks, but it is also a study in mote repetitive bad grammar. As an author, I refuse to learn bad writing habits no matter what kind of hurry I may think I am in.
Therein lays the root cause for most misunderstandings on Facebook. If you take a normal sentence and shorten it to just four or so words, all in small case, you have let Pandora out of her box. Usually, I won’t even bother trying to glean the meaning of those kinds of messages. Sure, it took the writer only two seconds to write the sentence, but it is going to take me five minutes to realize I will never understand it. Click “like” and move on….
So now we are down to the most important way not to go ballistic while reading a message like the ones described above. DO NOT TAKE THEM PERSONALLY! While this may be difficult, it is not impossible. Always consider this possibility; the person writing the offensive (maybe) material may only have the IQ of a matchstick. Don’t let this person ignite you into a feeding frenzy in which you post a much worse and totally perverse reply. Let the fireworks begin if you do and start sharpening your knife.
Un-friending someone from your Facebook account is a drastic measure and should only be applied after you have exhausted all possible means to locate and kill the offender. Yes, I jest – I don’t want to go to prison and get married to a huge guy named Bubba. I am reluctant to nuke anyone off my account simply because there is a good chance that I misinterpreted the statement in the first place. Un-friending can be hurtful and that is not cool. I must admit I have done it and in every case the person was totally offended because they had no clue I had taken their statement out of context.
Excluding family feuds, which occasionally flare up like the Hatfields and McCoys, most posts are benign in character and should be taken with a grain of salt. There are those who seem to revel in posting offensive pictures of tortured animals thinking they are being a good citizen by grossing everyone out, which does not help the cause one iota. I simply hide that particular post and move on.
One last pearl of wisdom; it would not kill any of us to get off Facebook for twenty-four hours, especially on the weekends. Weekends are for resting your body and mind by doing fun stuff with family and friends. Each and every person who is on Facebook is an author of sorts and all authors need to take a break from writing occasionally. Get away from Mark Zuckerberg’s world for a bit and find some fresh air – you need it!
PS: I formally took myself off Facebook last week so I can finish “The Phoenix Code” which is the last book of a trilogy. I feel like the weight of centuries has been taken off my shoulders. What an interesting new life I have discovered!