Facebook Feed: A Microcosm of Diversity

Any given day, I have this huge range of beliefs and opinions going across my facebook feed. I am friends with Christians and atheists, Republicans and Democrats, autistics and neurotypicals, parents and non-parents, gays and straights and gender-queers. It's a hodge-podge of beliefs and opinions streaming constantly across my page.

If it's a personal belief regarding politics and religion, I make no comment, generally feel no anger, either. People are entitled to share who they are on their facebook wall--I consider myself an invited guest and try to respond accordingly. If I wouldn't sit on their couch and say it to them, I'm not going to say it on their wall. If it's light woo, like the HCG diet or something similar, the same policy applies.

Here's a real shocker, perhaps, if they believe vaccines cause autism, I'm also not going to argue with them.

There's a time and a place for that, and facebook walls are not where I choose to engage. If a civil conversation can be had, I'm all for that, but I don't like pissing matches on facebook.

If I find language that's disturbing enough (like the use of disparaging language against minority groups), I'll quietly defriend the individual.

With it being an election year, the feed has gotten more polarized. The shooting in Aurora brought posts about gun rights and people's manifestos regarding that.

Lots of "defriend me now" went across my feed, all if you were in disagreement with the person. I never checked those threads to ever see if it got heated. I kept scrolling. I like to use facebook as news--I care about what's going on in my friends' lives, like to see what they are up to, enjoy the articles they share, their cute dog or cat pictures, the sarcastic sayings, all the various pages I like that give me updates on blog posts and news and how the various communities I feel I am a part of are doing.

Now the defriend me posts are about the guy with the chicken fast food chain and his comments about gays and gay marriage. Huffington Post informs me about what the company does with its profits, while some friends applaud supporting free speech by showing up at the restaurants today to eat fast food in solidarity, while other friends are wounded, and rightfully so, that people could be so threatened by the idea of gay marriage.

If the president of this company had made these comments about interracial marriage, would people be rallying at the restaurant to support his right to free speech? And what does spending six dollars for a combo meal have to do with supporting his free speech?

Here's an acceptance and support of free speech: each of my facebook friends has the right to express him or herself. It's a great right, freedom of speech, and one my husband and father both  spent over two decades each serving to protect.

I won't be making those "defriend me now" statuses on facebook. You don't have to agree with me to be my friend. But you do have to respect my right to believe and express myself in the same way I respect yours.

We can certainly decide, if it becomes too burdensome, to no longer be facebook friends. If your beliefs are so narrow as to be threatened because I won't either high five yours or express my own, then that loss of your facebook friendship will not be a great loss to me.


melbo said...

Damn ... you've done it again. I've just been talking about this issue with some other FB friends in a particular group. Varying opinions and beliefs were openly shared and not one person howled anyone else down or tried to convert them. It was marvellous. I wish there could be more of it.

I too have friends of many different stripes. I don't feel the need to take opposing views personally but like you, I have blocked and unfriended people who have crossed the line into being offensive in some way.

I also don't participate in social media "gang ups" and then try to coerce others into doing likewise. I really only become vocal in my expression if I am in a group where I am certain that people are like-minded. Even so, I endeavour not to denigrate others.

Good post. Thanks!

Elise Ronan said...

I too have a variety of facebook and twitter friends. I do not unfriend someone because of their opinions unless it is denigrating to one group or another. I also do not agree with most of the people I am "friends" with on politics.I also allow someone one inappropriate post before I unfriend. If they are just nasty and that is their way I do unfriend them.Afterall facebook and twitter are your personal universe and you don't have to allow everyone in. Having been the victim of social media gang ups I too don't participate. Those gang ups are jsut another version of bullying and I find it ironic that those who complaint he most about being bullied are usually the first to join in to attack someone else.

kathleen said...

Facebook by far is one of the weirdest things I have ever participated in...I'm o.k. if someone makes a statement (in the comments)that disagrees with something I posted on my wall..I'm up for a good discussion most of the time...I tend never to respond to the "defriend me" posts or even the "I am cleaning up my wall-if you want to stay my friend click here" I have a whopping 152 friends on FB-most of the people I have never met...we have some commonalities that somehow connected us. I agree with Elise-many of the people who complain about bullying are indeed the worst offenders! Yeah-sticking to fun posts and chicken pictures is more my speed...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. We share similar views and actions, though my microcosm is more micro than cosm.

And, I love the purple hair. :)


K Wombles said...

Thanks. It's nice to know I've got friends who feel similarly--it's been an odd experience to watch what I consider fairly extreme positions go across my facebook feed and the divisions between people.