I have moments in which I feel much older than my chronological age. Communicating online is something I’ve been doing since I discovered list serves in 1995. We were badass pioneers with our 14.4k modems. I came to know a ton of cool people all over the world from my living room.
I also met a lot of people with way too little going on in their lives.
I’m well versed in dealing with trolls and overly opinionated people who disregard simple etiquette and common decency. The biggest difference between then and now is that you don’t have to make any real effort to connect with folks online anymore.
Facebook will bring them to you – whether you want them or not.
I post a lot of things on FB that I believe in: news stories, articles, songs, poems, and sometimes just memes that reflect my beliefs and values. The latest of which has sparked a lot of controversy:
“In case you didn’t know: Transgendered people don’t want to use the bathroom of their intended gender to prey on your wife and kids. They want to use it because they have to PEE. “
A day and a half later, 125 people have publicly offered their opinions about my meme. I have no illusions about privacy and the internet. Things I write or repost are publicly displayed, viewed and scrutinized. What I find myself dealing with more and more are people I don’t know and are not connected with writing their dissenting opinions on my wall.
That’s weird. When did FB walls become a place where anyone who is not your “friend” feels entitled to tell you how wrong you are? How did deleting hateful comments become something that gets me accused of censorship?
See? I told you. I’m old and whining for the good old days when you had to subscribe to a mailing list to have hate delivered directly to you.
When I blog or write professionally; I am opening myself up to criticism and scrutiny. When I post on MY FREAKING FACEBOOK WALL I am expressing an opinion to friends and family. A stranger responding to me with the equivalent of, “Jim, I’m disgusted by your ridiculously bleeding heart liberal views and I think you’re likely going to hell,” is not a conversation starter.
It’s your unsolicited and unwarranted opinion that exposes you as a jerk.
I’ve lost track of the replies and threads on my wall. I’ve politely asked the same stranger to go away twice now and she’s still furiously posting her next argument, only to get flambeed by my liberal friends who are armed with terrible things like <gasp> facts.
Her observation in response to all of that: “You people are weird.” See? This is the cost of not knowing your audience! If you’ve known me for more than five minutes, you’d have no illusion to the contrary.
I crave real connection and truly open discourse. I’m open to opposing views but when we start off by labelling each other there’s no space for exchanging ideas. Call me a liberal snowflake and I’ll just wish you a nice F’ing day.
Lemme make my stand clear: If you want to talk about “those people” then you should know that you’re talking about my people. If you have hate in your heart than I’ll do my best to help you heal it. If you want to spread it, then brother, move along.