It’s 2013. Now more than ever, we are connected and while I’m sure in 10 years our children will be laughing at the technology we use today, it seems pretty high tech to us. We can pull information up anywhere and at any time, from the closest pizza joint to where your friends are in that moment. We can scope out concerts, movies, plays from our phones and pay for the tickets at the same time. We live from status to status, storing our pictures and sharing our thoughts, the most popular venue to do so being Facebook.
Facebook is an interesting beast. Practically everyone uses it. Even my grandmother and great aunt who are well into their 70s are on there liking every one of my photos in a 10 minute span. We use it regularly as a communication tool: to invite friends to an event, to send them a message, to wish them a happy birthday, to check-in with them at various locations, to ask questions, gain insight and share opinions.
I remember when your status on Facebook could only be 140 characters. Ahh, the good old days, very twitter-esque, trying to cram all your thoughts in that tiny space. What words could I take out and still have the message make sense? Now though, there is no restriction on how long a wall (oops, timeline) post can be. The result? We have moved away from the note feature and moved our long, sometimes obnoxious rants to our wall. We post articles and messages about controversial topics, making blanket statements like ‘pro-life, every time!’ followed by a drawn out explanation about why this is the only way to think.
This in itself is not the issue. We have the freedom of speech and opinion and it is our Facebook profile to post and discuss what we feel like. The problem is that we post these long diatribes on our personal opinions, advertise it to our 500 closest friends and expect that no one will challenge us. We get angry when they do because it’s OUR Facebook wall to post what we please. How dare you disagree with me on my very own wall? If you don’t like what i have to say, take me off your newsfeed. Or unfriend me. Or just keep your rebuttal to yourself.
Here’s the thing. Facebook is not your personal diary. Your wall is viewed by all the ‘friends’ or even friends of friends that you authorized in your privacy settings. The majority of Facebook users have several hundred friends, and with that many people you are guaranteed to have a myriad of views on any given subject. If you post something controversial on your wall and allow all of these people to read it, you are inviting them to comment on it. Would you walk into a room of 500 people, mostly acquaintances, and cry out “Gun control for all!” and expect that nobody would say anything? Would you get mad if they tried to have a conversation with you about it because it is your opinion and how dare anyone oppose you on it? If not (and I’m guessing most agree that is unfair) then don’t expect Facebook to be any different. It may be your wall, but it is your wall that you’ve allowed others to see and comment on and thus an open invite to conversation and debate. Facebook is not your diary, unless you want your diary to be accessible by anyone who knows a friend of a friend.
Facebook is also customizable. You can decide who can see your wall as a default and then you can even go as far as restricting your audience for each individual post. If you truly don’t want the opposition to chime in, then block those that you know will have differing views from seeing the post. If it’s truly personal, set it to the ‘only me’ privacy level so that no one else will even know it’s there. You can choose your readers just like you can choose your company and in many cases (especially when work colleagues are involved) it is a prudent decision to do so. Failing this, expect and welcome respectful and healthy debate on any topic you choose to convey to your entire list. Just as you have the freedom of speech, so do they and trying to silence them from voicing that in any venue is nothing short of hypocritical.
Or, you know, take your thoughts to a real diary and save Facebook for Bejeweled Blitz and checking in at the mall. Just sayin’.