blogging / criticism / life / manners / Why?

Do you have to post that?

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I think of something to blog about almost every day. Often I compose most of the post in my head. Then I don’t actually post anything. It’s like I’m avoiding it for some reason.

Sometimes I think I’m just afraid of the Internet. Haven’t you read all those stories about harassment and hatefulness? The other day I watched a Facebook argument spiral out of control. I didn’t think either purported itself well. But most of us have probably lost our cool a time or two online. I have, and I’d rather not.

Have you seen that comic strip where one character is staying up too late and the other character is complaining. The character at the computer is saying, “But someone on the Internet is wrong!” Ha! Haven’t you ever had that feeling where you have to argue with someone? Maybe you’re able to walk away or maybe you like to jump right in.

It seems every day recently I come across a post by someone I like, someone who I don’t want to hurt or anger, that seems deeply flawed. Not that I’m perfection. I’m sure I post things that annoy people too. The posts I saw included someone sharing a link to an article by an organization listed elsewhere as a fake news site. I don’t mean a satire site like The Onion. I mean, a site that is purposely posting bad science. It is a site that purports to be truthful but is really spreading bad science and fear. But I care about the person who posted it and I’m reluctant to even suggest site refuting their claims. Would it make any difference? Probably not. This person would probably just be mad at me.

Another friend posted an article regarding world events (and we all know there are plenty of world events going on right now to start a hundred flame wars) and I wanted to ask this friend a question about the post. The comment this friend made to go with the posted video made it clear that if you disagreed with the video in any way (and I could see agreeing with most of the video but taking issue with some points), you could readily be dismissed as “ignoring the truth.”

This made me wonder why we post things on Facebook or other social media sites at all. Smarter people than me have researched this already, but I’m going to voice my own thoughts anyway. If I miss a point, chime in.

We post to share what’s going on in our lives. I’m sure some people look at my posts and wonder, “Who cares?” But I don’t post for everyone. Sometimes, I post something with just a particular person in mind. I want to let a certain person know something without having to call.

We post to share something funny. Obviously what’s funny differs depending on your audience. But if I post something funny and you don’t think it is funny, well, I probably posted it for a different set of friends. One thing that annoys me about a lot of criticism people have for what other people post is–maybe they are posting just to you.I don’t expect people to decorate their houses to suit me. I don’t know why I should expect people to post things that I deem relevant. I skip or hide posts I don’t want to see.

Hiding posts pertains to political things as well as jokes gone astray. Or more accurately, especially political posts. I know someone people think no one should post about politics or religion. They think it isn’t appropriate and just gets people mad. Well, maybe. But I don’t mind. I post things like that. Either I want to share something with a friend who I know will be interested or I want to give voice to something that I believe needs voicing. One, I like knowing something about my friends’ politics. It helps me know who I would really want to invite over to dinner. Two, I actually learn things about the world by what others post. You may not care about the news or about what is going on in the world, but I do. I like having some clue about the world around me. Sometimes this doesn’t make me feel good, but that’s okay. Hashtags and memes may not make a direct difference or bring about world peace, but they help raise awareness, they let us know what people are paying attention to. I didn’t think the hashtag “bringbackourgirls was going to appeal to corrupted hearts of boko haram, but at least it was one way to show friends and family of those girls that the world had noticed. How awful silence would be. A hashtag needs to be followed up with something meaningful (although sometimes I’m at a loss as to what that is–what can I do to save children an ocean away?), but I don’t mind people using hashtags and the like.

Three, when my friends post articles and photos they like and want to share, I learn about those friends. I learn what is important to them and about things going on in their lives. We may post things to spin our lives a certain way (Look at how much fun I’m having!), but over time this doesn’t seem maintained. My friends who post regularly post a range of things, and sometimes their lives are going great and other times not so much.

Some of the political post lately have gotten so shrill, I’ve had to hide them. It seems people think they are preaching to the choir. They do not appear to want to debate. They don’t seem to want to hear, “But have you thought about…”

Which begs the question, do I want to hear that? I don’t know. IT’s great to be agreed with. It sucks to argue. Or at least I hate to argue. I feel sick to my stomach. Some people probably think I post too many political/religious oriented things and should stick to pretty photos and other safe topics, but I can’t tell you how many things I don’t post. I consider certain people in my life and how I don’t want to upset them, so I keep quiet.

But do you resent it when you swallow your own thoughts, opinions, or ideas just to keep someone else in blissful ignorance of how you really feel? It’s tricky that balance between being honest and being respectful. Sometimes I manage it and sometimes I don’t.

I was disappointed the other day when I couldn’t even voice support for the person I agreed with because she resorted to name-calling and her arguments were flawed. And honestly, my inner snob comes out sometimes and I want to say, if you really care about this topic, could you write in proper English? Seriously. If something matters, use capital letters and complete words and sentences. Bad form on a cat meme is one thing. Bad form on a subject you claim to believe in just comes across as lazy. And if you’re lazy about it, how much can you care about it?

Well, that’s it for today. Go out there and live your life, people. Thanks for reading.

13 thoughts on “Do you have to post that?

  1. Yep, Marta, a tight rope we walk. Although with time, I have grown to accept lots of opinions and different ideas … and when I can’t, I blissfully ignore them. Keep on smiling.

  2. I’ve been thinking a lot about this sort of thing. (Well, THESE SORTS of things. This post covers a good chunk of real estate. :))

    (This article/opinion piece triggered some of that thinking.)

    I have to head off for some errands at the moment. Just wanted to say for now that one of the things I value about your friendship, which is entirely online, is that I don’t have to label sarcastic jokes with “I’m just kidding!” icons, although I do it sometimes anyway (especially when others might read it and scratch their heads, thinking “What a mean SOB!”). My family are great at both loving one another and teasing one another, but after 30 years online I can safely say the folks who can be teased with a straight face in a forum or social network, without flaring up, are very rare creatures.

    • Ha. I did enjoy that opinion piece you linked to. So true.

      I think one of my dad’s parenting goals was to raise a kid who could be teased in any sort of forum and not freak out. And by teased, I don’t mean bully or made miserable, of course. Well, you know.

  3. When someone posts something that is uninformed or of an opinion that differs from mine, I find engaging rewarding. Raising awareness is the right thing to do. How else are we going to move forward?

    • I like to engage, but sometimes I’m not sure how to do that in a manner that doesn’t cause a raging argument. Lately especially I’ve deleted comments because I wasn’t sure I could/should bother. It’s like I could already compose their response in my head, and I couldn’t see it going anywhere. That said, I did bring up contradictory point on someone’s post and the response I got was polite but not acknowledging my concern in any way. Maybe I’m suffering from engagement fatigue.

    • A person should feel free to express themselves, but we could all stand to think through what we’re posting. And I don’t mean think about who will be offended or bothered. I mean, to make sure what we’re saying or the stance we’re taking is in fact something we really believe and have really thought about. Tricky!

  4. Tough and true. I always want to know more, ask more, discuss more, say more. It’s frustrating that we have to be so careful in this large, delicate space called the internet– where we ignore the possibility that someone else may be speaking with a little humor. a little lightness, and then expect them to understand our own tone. I’ve been guilty of that myself– I always hope that if I’m dead wrong, another person will tell me with grace and humor, as Vaughn Roycroft did once. And now, we’re FB pals in good standing.

    Nothing makes me back down faster and see that I’ve been overly reactive as fast as an honestly gracious extension of the benefit of the doubt. Too bad that too few people extend that, or recognize when it is being offered. Maybe if we all agreed to give each other second and third chances?

    • I will say that you’re someone who I would feel comfortable with asking/discussing a wide range of topics with. I don’t know why because we haven’t met in real life. But something about maybe the way you post and comment makes me feel that I could ask a challenging question of. Maybe it helps that we probably agree more than we disagree anyway. Maybe it’s because I see you engage in interesting discussions so I know you’re open to that. But it is hard. Especially when I usually feel like I’m in the minority when it comes to religion and politics. I’m generally an extremely non confrontational person, so for me to engage someone on an issue, usually means my stomach hurts and I’m nervous about the response.

  5. Mostly I’m commenting so I can say that the art at the top of this post is amazing. I love “of breath” and “more blood.”

    Generally speaking I think it’s amazing that people have so many divergent opinions, and a well-argued opinion that isn’t indulging in delusion is something I enjoy listening to. (“Delusion” defined broadly here – one person’s reality might appear to be pure fantasy to someone else.) When people are unthinking in what they’re posting, or just repeating unthinking material from elsewhere, it’s a big shrug and I don’t tend to engage.

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