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Friday, November 07, 2014

Observation about Postings on Social Media

Consider the following statement:  "The more people you know post on social media, the [less] or [more] you will find them appealing." 

I suppose that it depends on what they post.  For example, during the recent election I read several posts on my spouse's Facebook wall about the election and the "arrogant smiles of Republicans."  Naturally, these were Democrats from blue states who were making these posts.  And that got me to thinking about the nature of their smiles both in 2008 and 2012.  Were they humble?  Sometimes we and others we know have no idea how we seem or what we're doing when we're doing it. 

There's also the humble bragging, the rants (both about politics and about the quality of service providers) and the posts of good times that (inadvertently, perhaps) tell others that they were not included.  Perhaps, also, there are posts to people far away, because for some it is easier to relate by social media than in person in the present.  The latter can be awkward and require more of an effort than hitting strokes on a keyboard. 

In business we talk frequently about realizing that you should consider what you write in the context of its being quoted verbatim in the newspaper or blown up on an exhibit in a court room.  Translated, be professional to the point of being antiseptic.  In our private lives (which are not as private as they once were), we would like to reveal more of ourselves and be less filtered.  That's fine, but we also should consider how we would like to be perceived and the legacy that we want to leave behind.  If you post frequent criticisms, are the things that you are criticizing always that bad or are you just unhappy?  If you post frequently about what you buy, where you go and what your kids do, are you arrogant?  If you always tell people how much you admire them, what they do and their and their children's accomplishments, are you a sycophant (especially when you do so for people you do not know that well).  And if you have many friends but do not post much, are you a bystander or voyeur?

I don't think that we should apply Teddy Roosevelt's "In the Arena" standard to ourselves when it comes to posting on social media.  So, if someone who gets criticized for a fit of pique were to say, "well, at least I post and I share my thinking.  I have the courage to do that.  They don't," I don't think that someone who is an infrequent poster should question his or her own courage.  Perhaps, instead, they should reflect upon their own restraint and a transcendent display of maturity, honoring the adage, "she who holds the word back is its master, and she who deploys it is it's slave."  Or, as the British at times were wont to say, "the less said, the easier mended."

I do not have a Facebook page yet but might get one, if only because so many friends have one and keep in touch better that way.  On the one hand, I value my privacy very much.  On the other hand, I do not want to be isolated.  Yet, I realize that because I have various friends but not a group of friends, having a Facebook page might reinforce some isolation because others might get together more frequently than my schedule, commitments and location might allow.  At the end of the day, though, I try to operate under the adage that if these are my friends, I am happy for their happiness.  The world is a big place, and we need a lot of people to be successful and happy to have a great society.  So, if I'm not included on a jaunt to a baseball game in another city, so be it.  Making my own fun, in the end, is up to me, and I can as easily gather others as be gathered.  Sometimes we all have to remember that.

But going back to my initial premise, what I have found out in infrequent views of my spouse's Facebook page is that she has more liberal friends than conservatives, that some of the liberals cannot begin to understand anyone else's point of view, that one guy seemingly writes only of icons of our youth who have passed way.  A few tout causes, whether they are illnesses or veterans, and a few just pop in to post and say hello.  Some vent, some boast about their kids' report cards, some post too much information.  In a way, it's all about living life.

Don't know when I'll find time to start my Facebook page, and will try not to get addicted to it if I do so.  After all, I'd rather be out there doing things that are worthy of posting and not have the time to post about them then spending time on Facebook, not having done things, and then wondering what I'll post about. 


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