FRIEND—OR UNFRIEND?

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Facebook offers several options in dealing with others’ posts.  Basically, you can “like” something or “share” it, but if you care to do so, you may also comment on it.

Sometimes commenting—or even simply sharing—is tantamount to opening Pandora’s box.  I am always somewhat astonished by the vitriol that is unleashed in some comments.  Facebook offers relative anonymity—or at least the knowledge that one is unlikely to meet so-and-so on a daily basis, if ever.  Knowing this, some folks seem to think it gives them carte blanche to engage in hateful, personal name-calling—such as they would probably never use in face-to-face discourse.  (There is a certain degree of cowardice there, I think.)

Well, Facebook does offer us some recourse.  You can, of course, simply ignore such comments or memes and happily scroll right on past them. (Probably the best option.)  Or, if it really gets under your skin, you can “hide” or delete a given post.  In more egregious instances—you are fed up with a given person’s rants—you can “unfollow” him or her.  This seems a reasonable choice in lieu of responding discourteously yourself.  But in really extreme instances, you can “unfriend” the person from your Facebook life.

For the most part, I enjoy Facebook.  I love connecting with former students and colleagues—a godsend for someone whose acquaintances are quite literally spread all over the nation!  I share and/or comment on things I find interesting or amusing, but I certainly do not assume that everyone who stumbles onto my page will always agree with me.  How boring would that be?

For the record, I rarely “hide” things (and I hate that Facebook wants me to explain why when I do—isn’t it enough that I simply do not want to see that thing anymore?).  But I do choose to hide things that are especially crude or cruel.  No, not mere language.  I am never offended by language that Ms. Manners might frown upon in elegant society.  (Frankly for me to be offended by mere words would be incredibly hypocritical—not to mention just plain phony.)  To date, I have “unfollowed” only one person.  And I did “unfriend” a person who persisted in calling me names. . . .

I am quite sure others have used these tools to protect themselves from me too.  So be it.

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