I was a late adopter of the social media craze – in fact, I was resistant. I did not know what it was all about. However, I kept receiving invites to join Facebook. The various solicitations to join are so prevalent that even my father set up an account on his own and he is not very internet savvy.
The more I talked to people, the more I kept hearing about Facebook and I joined. One of the great outcomes of joining was finding many long lost friends. Had it not been for that platform, I would have never located some people because I had exhausted every other known possibility. I actually found someone I had been actively trying to locate for 15 years! I found another person who I had not seen in 22 years! I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect and stay in touch.
My main problem with Facebook began with “friend” requests. Former classmates, college acquaintances, past colleagues and general friends were not a problem. The problem “Facebook friends” were: family, close family friends and current colleagues.
I admit, I was using Facebook to some extent, as a diary – not too personal but, enough that those close to me could figure out what I was posting and why. Some comments I made created a lot of chatter at work because I was commenting on a difficult time in my life and was expressing my general feelings. This issue had nothing to do with work; however, people at work, who were not on Facebook, were made aware of my comments!
Moreover, siblings have gripes about each other often. I shared some comments venting about an issue of family discord, not mentioning which sibling upset me. Consequently, a close family friend called my sibling and shared my comments! That sibling was not even a Facebook member but, he was told everything I said and that created a host of other family problems. Many comments I have made over the years have been speculated to be in reference to my life but, the comments were actually general insights. There was a point when I felt the need to preface each comment with a disclaimer such as, “This is a general comment sharing my insights about…”
Furthermore, I lost long-term friends due to some of my comments – based on my views about several issues. I tend to joke, jest and be sarcastic at times. I believe in freedom of speech; friendly debate; and agreeing to disagree. Suddenly, I found myself de-friended by a few, both on Facebook and in real life! For me, Facebook is a fun, lighthearted leisure activity that I do not take seriously. Oftentimes, I do and say funny or quirky things – things that have been taken out of context on different occasions. Admittedly, I am a little eccentric and my taste is eclectic. Those who know me personally understand me. Casual acquaintances have been known to flee.
I am an animal lover and I have made posts on behalf of my beloved pets. I use my pets as mascots to advocate for causes. For example, I posted a comment such as, “My dog Tiger said he wants you to have your pets spayed and neutered.” There are a few people who actually thought I believed my dog said it! I created an avatar of my cat and made a video of him singing a song “he wrote.” Creating the avatar and making it seem as though he was singing was a fun experiment that I decided to share. I am not the crazy cat lady; I just love technology and showcasing my skills!
It is interesting to notice when you have been “de-friended” by people you have known for your entire life. De-friending is not a punishment – it is just an indication that they did not understand my brand; my sense of humor; or the nature of my Facebook presence. It is pure social and entertainment.
As a result, I did not take offense when I lost friends. In fact, I evaluated my Facebook friends and closed my circle. I de-friended all of the people with whom I could have a potential conflict. Moreover, I realized that I did not need thousands of Facebook friends. I only want to share with those who are close to me or those who tend to be kindred spirits.
Facebook has many benefits such as: the ability to stay in touch with people effortlessly; birthday reminders; and being a place to archive photos, videos and other items of interest that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
My lessons learned are guidelines everyone should follow if utilizing any social media site: 1) exclude family, close family friends and colleagues. (After all, you see them regularly and can share with them as needed.); 2) if you are going to be on social media, keep it light and impersonal; 3) politics, religion and Facebook do not make good bedfellows; and 4) be leery about friend requests from people you do not know. Just because you have friends in common, that does not mean you know them – some people are just plain nosey!