Random thoughts while searching for shade:
I don’t know if it’s possible to be pro-social media and swear off social media at the same time, but I’m about to find out.
Unlike some people my age, I have nothing against social media — in theory. The idea is that applications like Facebook or Twitter serve as a sort of community bulletin board: A way to share your thoughts and beliefs with friends, family and others.
At least, that’s the theory.
Unfortunately, theory and reality often head in different directions when subjects like politics are introduced into the discussion.
Such as it has with Facebook.
A quick disclaimer: I don’t use Twitter and have no plans to. I’ve always been a believer in the theory that if five words will do, 35 will be even better, so why waste my breath trying to bless you with my wisdom, condensed to 280 characters?
Anyway, back to Facebook. I’ve always followed the American credo that this country should welcome, if not demand, differing points of view. After all, our Founding Fathers carried all sorts of clashing beliefs, but somehow created a Constitution and a country that’s functioned, for the most part, fairly well for the past 229 years.
Of course, Ben Franklin, James Madison and their colleagues realized they needed to compromise on a great many issues to get anything constructive done. Compromise is a dirty word now — but that is fodder for another day.
“Civil discourse” is now almost an oxymoron and nowhere is that more evident than on social media. However, it is also a breeding ground for some of the most ignorant, hateful and borderline bigoted comments, even from people I’ve considered friends for several years.
Just now, I went on my Facebook page and I counted more than 10 anti-Trump comments from an old colleague. Fine, that’s his opinion and he’s certainly entitled to it. The trouble is those kind of posts are magnets for those who want to Make America Great Again and what follows is a stream of invective and coarse language that would have earned me a smack from my mom if she ever caught me talking that way.
Of course, this works both ways. Those friends of mine who want to Make America Great Again post all kinds of things, earning them insults and rude names from the opposing crowd.
I realize, of course, that all of this is simply life today in the United States. Free speech is great, but it’s a double-edged sword — you certainly have a right to your opinion, but I have an equal right to disagree with you, and if my words happen to offend you, too darned bad.
The problem with the political “stuff” streaming on Facebook is this: The only thing these posts accomplish is to upset people. Nobody has ever won an argument on the Internet, and nobody ever will. What passed for an idea exchange — one of the great ideas behind Facebook — has devolved into name-calling and finger-pointing and, quite frankly, I’m sick of it all.
So, I’m going to swear off Facebook, at least for awhile. I don’t want to permanently delete my account, because it is a cheap and easy way to keep track of family and friends, but I’m getting tired of literally feeling my blood pressure start to rise when I log in, so I’m taking a week off from that mess, starting today.
No political posts, no cute puppy photos, no funny memes, it’s all going away for the next few days.
After the end of this self-imposed trial period, I’ll reassess the situation and proceed accordingly.
I think both Facebook and I will survive.
Steve Reagan is a staff writer at the Snyder Daily News. Comments about his column may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.