Ahhh the trials and tribs of social media. We complain, share memes and vent in various ways about those things that bug us, but still, we come back for more. There are many things I see people post on Facebook that bug me. Passive aggressive posts. Posts begging for compliments or pity. Certain political posts. Animal cruelty photos for the sake of shock with no call for action or a way to help. Hunters happily posing over their bloody still-alive kill. Yes, these all bug me. But what bugs me most? People telling others to stop posting these things.
Now before I move on, I am certainly not talking about parents or caring adults advising kids or young adults to not post hateful, overly sexual, or drunken photos that will hurt themselves or another, and probably their future job prospects. I'm talking about those lecturing posts that say things like: "Stop the political posts!" Or "I'm so sick of hearing about (insert complaint here)" Of course, my just saying "stop lecturing people" certainly seems to be inconsistent with my telling others to stop their behavior--but hear me out.
We learned a lot about some of the people in our lives this past election season due to their social media posts. I viewed expressions of opinion from people that surprised me, having never knew they held those views. My opinion of some people changed due to those posts, and perhaps, from the opinions I expressed, some changed their opinion of me.
So be it.
Because while I may have felt surprise and disappointment more than once, I also learned a great deal, and in the end, I'm glad I know more about some of these people and their views that I did before. In this discomfort, I began to challenge myself to listen and learn another view, even if it was only to determine that, in the end, the divide was too great. Sometimes, I was presented with a view that stretched my own, and I was able to find common ground and grow.
It took me awhile to get to this point. When I was younger, I was more conservative than now, which to me, seems the opposite of what should happen. But I have found that many of the views I held in the past may have been skewed by a lifetime of lack of exposure--dare I say ignorance to so many things.
And interestingly, it was again, one of my daughters who got me to expand my viewpoint. Anyone who knows her knows she is quite passionate about the things she believes in. And in between her happy little posts about her kids or her latest outdoor adventure, she'll share an article or express an opinion that some might find --well, controversial. Even uncomfortable. I have had many conversations with her suggesting she limit those posts, because she has so many who see them; family members or others not within her close friends that may be offended by her posts. Her response:
So be it.
Facebook started as a way college students could connect with others, find roommates and communicate with friends. It then evolved into a way family and friends could stay in touch, especially across the miles. It has now extended way beyond it's original purpose and is used not only for the things it was started with, but for connection in all its forms; idea sharing, event planning, groups and business pages. She explained that for many, including her, it has become a conduit for social activism, where you can find like-minded people who may share your passion for a charity, animals, politics or an opportunity to share knowledge, expose injustice, or even, back to the simple feel-good concept of positive quotes kid or kitten photos. It is now a source for any or all of your needs.
But those needs vary. And you or I can use it for whatever need we may have, even if someone else doesn't like it.
So now, when I see something that bugs me, I do one of 3 things 1) Ignore 2) Hide/unfriend or 3) React (if I am feeling particularly passionate about an issue) Although I know that the odds of changing someone's view by arguing on Facebook is slim to none. Just as it is equally unlikely, that a demand that someone stops posting about something they feel passionate about simply because YOU don't want to see it, will be heeded.
I've found that accepting that people use their social media for reasons that may be different than yours alleviates the stress of the news feed scroll. Rather than get angry at the political rant or sexy selfie... realize that YOU have complete control.
How do ya LIKE that? :-)