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October 18, 2018

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Jeannine

I so much want to pull the plug. Facebook has been far more devastating to my relationships than helpful.

Eric H Janzen

@ Anonymous:
The ability of social media to be used as a platform for meaningful discourse is one of those things that sounds good in theory, but unless it is in a highly mediated context, that ability has never really come to fruition. Facebook is not, and probably never was, going to be a platform that could sustain healthy dialogue long term. As you say, relating to one another in any context is challenging, but the increased ability to type out scathing and cruel remarks (often just for the trolling 'fun' of it) is simply too easy on facebook or any other social media platform. People do it because they feel removed from the actual action of relating to another person. Such remarks are made without any true consequence. It's 'just' words on a screen...but of course this isn't true. Words are the most powerful action we have as human beings, even if we have forgotten this to be true. I may have once believed that the ability to connect with others in such a unique way could be of great benefit to us...but increasingly the fruit that I see even in my own limited social media use (I only have a facebook account, none of the others) leads me to believe the experiment is failing and failing fast. We would do well to return, in earnest, wherever possible, to meet with one another in person, look each other in the eye, and discuss our beliefs and differences with the most respectful, humanizing, and gentle language we can imagine.
You may wonder, given my cynical view, what I use facebook for. I primarily post commentary and pictures of foods I bake and cook at home for my family. Occasionally, I post pictures of the drawings I do in my little sketchbook, which aren't very good. Ironically, I think this is what facebook was actually intended for: lighthearted and shallow social connection. We have mistakenly put an expectation on social media to be some sort of excellent means of communication. If that was the intent, it has barely lived up to such a calling. I personally use the 'hide' feature to rid my facebook feed of any and all politically themed posts regardless of their particular place on the spectrum. I rarely take part in any ongoing discussions about religion, though I'm often tempted to. Honestly, I would way rather talk about them in person with people.

In the end it may be that facebook and other social media reveal to us that we are far better off encountering one another in real life where we have, at least, a little more hope of engaging with each other in meaningful discourse for the simple reasons that tone and facial expressions are the most important parts of human communication. Also, in person we are witness to the immediacy and power of our words. I like to believe that most people in person, would have the common decency not to say some of the incredibly awful things they fire off from their keyboards.

I support your exit from Facebook. I don't think you should ever second guess your decision either.

cheers,
eric h janzen

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