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Dear Facebook, I Give Up

Last night, I posted this status update on Facebook:

I was tired from the day. The kids were in bed and I was alone in an empty house without adult conversation – which happens often when your significant other travels a lot.

I was just trying to spark a little conversation. And not post something like “So glad this day is over. It was a bad one.” I am not a fan of generic stuff like that. You think “Well, why was it bad? What happened?” Or you just don’t care and move on. Either way, what’s the point?

Also, I feel like people are always posting about all the great things that happen, sometimes it’s nice to see the other side. That way, you aren’t always comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. I am a big fan of transparency – the good, the bad, the honest truth.

I thought maybe I would find someone who had a bad day too – and could commiserate – “Yeah, that happened to me too”, or “Let’s chalk it up to a loss and try again tomorrow.”

I was NOT saying that my life is bad. I know I have a great life and I am fortunate in many ways.

I was NOT saying that other people don’t have problems. Everyone has problems – some fewer, some more, some the same, some different.

I was also NOT saying there is something wrong with my kids reading the Bible. Back when I was writing the post, I thought about including a disclaimer: “I’m not saying there is something wrong with the Bible. It just shouldn’t be forced on kids in public school.”

But, I didn’t, thinking that most people would already agree – because groups of men should not be waiting outside of our public schools for ANY reason. And bibles should NOT be handed out to kids in public schools. Both of these things are NOT okay. There is separation of church and state (By the way, if they were passing out the Koran to kids, I’m thinking people would feel differently).

Okay, off my soapbox now…

I have to admit, sometimes I feel like giving up on Facebook. But at the same time, I love it as a way to connect with people near and far, and stay current with what’s happening in their lives. I also love finding new friends, and discovering things we have in common.

Instead of giving up entirely, I’m going to start utilizing Facebook’s “friend list” feature more, which let’s me customize posts for different groups of friends – like school friends, close friends, work friends, family, etc. I’m going to make a list called “people who get me”. I’m not kidding. I’m already working on it now.

So, another lesson learned for me. Wow, they just keep coming, don’t they? Now the next time I want to stir up a little evening conversation, I’ll just post to this group of people who know me, love me, and most of all “get” me. No disclaimers required.

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Why I Put Myself in Timeout

I’m been lying low on all things social media (and all things social for that matter) for about a week now.

Things were getting a little too heated and ugly for me. I needed to take a break. My “ness” and I crawled back into our protective little shell.

It all started last Tuesday, with the announcement of the winner of the Presidential election. When I heard the news, I was elated. After celebrating with friends at home, I was feeling great. Then, I made the mistake of checking Facebook to connect with friends and family. That’s when things went downhill – fast.

It wasn’t the “I’m disappointed” or “feeling sad” comments. I totally get that. I was aware that just under half of the population of our country was disappointed. They did not share my enthusiasm.

It wasn’t that, but rather the cries of “the idiot vote won”, “were all f*cked”; along with the name calling – “Muslim”, “Socialist”, and “The Anti-Christ”. All of these posts from people I actually know – like in real life.

I don’t know why I couldn’t ignore it. I don’t know why I let it bother me. I don’t know why I didn’t just put down the iPhone and move on. Instead, some combination of stress, too much celebratory champagne, and a raging case of PMS, led me to respond to a few people. I regret that.

The thing I regret the most is that I let them steal my joy. Which is not their fault. Nope. That’s all mine.

The next day I woke up feeling sad and depressed and embarrassed by my outburst. I tried a couple of times to get back on Facebook to apologize, and even wrote what I thought was an inspirational blog post. But, it didn’t make me feel any better.

I realized that what I really needed was to put myself in a timeout…to take a break from all things social media, until cooler heads (mostly mine) prevail.

I’m not sure why I take it all to heart so much. It’s not that I expect everyone to agree. I don’t even think that we should. I certainly don’t expect people to see things the exact same way I do. As a self described “tree-hugger” living in South OC, I’m used to being in the minority most of the time.

I think it’s that I just so desperately want people to be reasonable, and rational, and deal in facts and numbers and math.

I also want people to not be hateful. And every once in a while, approach problems with an open mind. And if they are going to use words like “Muslim”, “socialist”, and “anti-Christ”, have some idea what those words actually mean.

Maybe it’s too much to ask. I don’t really know right now…

Hey, I was no fan of George W. Bush, but he was our President. When he was re-elected, I didn’t think the world was ending, or that it wasn’t fair, or that people who voted for him were all morons. I just realized I was not part of the majority vote, hoped for the best in the next four years, and vowed to make a difference locally with the issues that were important to me.

While I didn’t like Bush’s policies, I didn’t hate him as a person. I tried to make light of the situation. Here is a picture I took one time in the Houston airport. I was staring down a statue of Bush Sr. I captioned it “making peace with the man who brought us GW”.

I still hold out hope that instead of fueling more hatred and division, this election will cause us to pull together to work on the things we agree on. Every time I see a clip from Fox News or an interview with John McCain, that hope dies a little bit inside, but there is still an ember burning there.

In my mind, the short list of things we agree on goes something like this – healthy, educated children; stable jobs and some security in retirement; clean air and water; and a democracy that really does work by and for the people.

The good news is that polls suggest that the vast majority of American people do want this. In the real world (not the extremes we see on TV), most people lean more toward the middle.

If we agree that we want a government that works for the people (rather than special interests and companies that spend the most money on lobbyists), there must be compromise – on both sides. If everyone digs their heels in and doesn’t budge, nothing will get done. Which, I can’t imagine is good for anyone – except maybe the cable news networks pumping their audiences full of propaganda and carefully manipulated numbers (which does not equate to facts and math by the way).

I also don’t take myself so seriously that I believe anyone cares about my political opinions. But it’s my blog so I figured, I can write a post just for me – and I feel a little bit better now.

Maybe even better enough to dip my toe back into the Facebook waters again. With a little more trepidation and a little bit thicker skin this time.

Keeping my fingers crossed. Wish me luck…

Politics in a Social Media World

I’ve been thinking about politics and social media quite a bit lately. Some people don’t appear to mind mixing the two, but for most others, it seems like it’s a big no-no. At least once a day, I see a friend lament about too many Facebook political posts. Or another friend makes a well-informed, valid point, followed by and apology for getting political. I understand. I have done it too.

And I know many of you don’t want to see it from others, or go there yourself. I get it.

Personally, I don’t mind political posts. I find it interesting and enjoy reading other points of view. Yes, even if their views are different than mine. But then again, I’ve never been one to shy away from a spirited political discussion. I find our political process engaging, and frustrating, and fascinating. I’m so thankful to live in a country where it is all possible.

However, not all political posts are good and/or welcome. Here, I would like to offer up a few suggestions for better mixing of politics and social media – not rules, but rather guidelines for making your politic posts go down a bit more smoothly.

First and foremost, if you get the majority of your news from only one source and just spout off talking points from that one source, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. Even I know the Fox News talking points – it’s not fair, and it’s not balanced, so don’t kid yourself. Neither is MSNBC by the way, so I’m not just picking on the far-right. That’s why I get all my news from the ridiculously smart and talented Jon Stewart. Kidding…well kind of. I do watch the Daily Show, well daily, but I also get news and information from the paper, articles, books, internet sources, and yes, occasionally cable news networks.

Second, if you have expertise/passion/experience in a particular topic or issue, share it. None of us have time (or if we do, take the time) to research every angle of a political point of view or do homework on every one of the propositions. So for me, I like links to articles my friends have found, or their opinions about something that they have expertise in. As a matter of fact, I’ll go one step further – if you have experience and expertise on a particular topic, I think you should feel some sense of obligation to share with others so that they can make more informed decisions at the polls.

But please, if you have not done any research or don’t have any experience aside from one segment to saw on the news, maybe just pass instead of hit “share”.

Third, keep it positive, or funny, or preferably both. A bunch of “he’s a socialist”, “he’s an idiot” or “let’s just go start bombing people” posts really do nothing…for anyone. And also, they make you look like kind of a jerk.

And finally, proper grammar and punctuation go a long, long way. A quick double check before hitting “share” makes the world a better place.

Onward friends, until November…

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