Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Are you really among friends?

O beloved Facebook, how I hate thee. Ok, I don't hate Facebook. I actually really love it. But it does seem to bring up some strange circumstances between supposed friends. Sometimes I have to wonder if I really am among friends there. I mean, I've hand-picked each and every person I interact with through that network, and yet sometimes I find people on there to be so offensive.

I don't consider myself someone who is "afraid" of offending people. I do, however, keep a lot of my thoughts and opinions to myself if I know I'm in mixed company (any mix). Why? It's not out of fear. It's out of respect. I know that not every person in my life shares my exact set of values, or feels the same way I do about parenting, or education, or religion, or politics. I honestly don't even know how some of my good friends feel about some of those things. So out of respect for their personal feelings on different matters I usually avoid commenting on controversial topics. I would never want a friend of mine to feel ridiculed or disrespected by me because we didn't share the same view on something. I have no problem with people who think differently than I do, and therefore feel no reason to make fun of them.

It is then beyond me why people on Facebook, a forum in which you are supposedly "friends" with all of the people who might see your postings, would make comments that are both insensitive and disrespectful to people of different values and beliefs. Would you say those things to your friend's face? Do you consider for a second that some of your "friends" might identify with those people or groups your comments are making fun of?

I used to teach 6th grade, and I can say with a good deal of confidence that there is not a group of people who make fun of one another more than 6th graders do. The reason for such profound teasing and ridicule among these kids all boils down to security and self-image. The ones who do the most teasing are the most insecure about themselves. I had one 6th grader who easily weighed twice what I do and was about a foot shorter. After hearing him dish out some pretty nasty insults I began to mentally note this child's interactions with his peers. I discovered that everything he said (at least in my presence) degraded someone else. I honestly never heard him say anything that wasn't meant to hurt another kid. It was the classic philosophy that if I make fun of others that will make me better, or at least they'll be afraid to make fun of me. He was a sad child.

Now as someone who is approaching 30 years old, I find it rather appalling that some of my "friends" are not yet beyond making fun of someone for being different than them. Seriously?? Are you that insecure in your own beliefs or opinions that you have to get validation through belittling others? Still?! I know adults make fun of people all the time. I just consider that behavior ignorant and immature. It is a true sign of someone's own insecurity.

I guess the bottom line is that people don't always think before they speak, and consequently don't realize how insecure they make themselves look. But for goodness sake, have enough respect for others not to degrade another viewpoint.

Ok, I'll get off the soap box already. Just promise me you'll play nice with others, and post with care :]


  1. Em I completely agree. I lost a friend on facebook because of their inability to think before posting things. It was a very hard experience to go through and now I try to be careful about the sort of things I post on there. I also weeded out quite a few people and de-friended them. I'm sure it offended people, but I figure with facebook it's better to be proactive to protect my feelings from this point on. Facebook drama is the WORST.

  2. I'm right there with ya! People are never more bold or more careless with their words than when there's a computer screen between them and the world. Whether it be direct communication via e-mail or some chat interface, or more generalized communication with a group through something like Facebook or Twitter. Things that someone would never say to your face come flying out willy nilly with utter disregard for your feelings. I've de-friended people over insensitive remarks that didn't even have anything to do with MY beliefs or preferences, but that were just outright insensitive and, for lack of a better term, jerk-y! I just can't stand the negativity! Who needs that?! There's really just no room for generalized derogatory comments in an environment like that - you can't know that you won't hurt someone you consider a "friend" when you make blanket statements that they'll all see. I guess some people either don't care, or are too stupid to realize that not everyone they're acquainted with thinks and believes the way they do. It's irritating.


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