Everyone, it seems, is posting requests on Facebook these days begging that we all return to civility and forgive and forget post-election day. I am all for this. Civility is nice. It’s good. It’s . . . civil. In the back of my mind I can hear Mary Poppins’ voice (or Julie Andrews’, which is synonymous) offering her approval.
There is one problem with this petition for amnesty. Sometimes, you really do have to ask permission first, not forgiveness later. Sometimes, it’s too difficult to go back to how things were when hurt has been done. Not too hard to forgive, mind you. That’s always necessary. Forgiveness is vital to our mental health and soul. But I don’t think forgetting is going to be as easy as everyone hopes.
I wish it was.
But Facebook has created a monster we previously saw only in ill-advised emails or incredibly stupid comments on Youtube. The monster of “It’s electronic, not face-to-face, so I can blast people with my 30-second opinion and feel no consequences.” OK, Facebook hasn’t created this monster. Occasional bad manners are native to most of us. But it has facilitated poor judgment on a vast scale.
See, if someone is willing to basically call me an a selfish moron in a Facebook post for not thinking they way he does, I can reasonably assume he would call me one in person as well. This is not the behavior of friends. Realizing that Facebook “friends” and real life friends are different creatures, I hope that if a person is the former, I would still treat her with the respect of a face-to-face friend.
I don’t post politics, so I haven’t lost any friends over it so far as I know. But I know several people who have. Unfriending someone simply because she doesn’t agree with your brand of thought is absurd. I mean really, who wants to live in a world where everyone thinks the same thing? Opinions among friends are part of the fiber of a free country.
But unfriending someone because he persists in comments, statuses, or comics that imply or outright insist I’m an idiot and his opinion is the only intelligent/morally defensible one? I can understand that. I’m in a cranky enough mood first thing in the morning when I sit down and open the computer. I don’t need to add insult to insufficiently-caffienated injury.
Point being, think before you type. Ponder before you post. Are these really your friends? Then let’s begin from respect rather than end with apology. Mary would approve.