Come on folks, please stop treating FaceBook as a stream of consciousness. Just because you think it, it doesn’t have to be posted.
This isn’t just a rant about FaceBook this time. I actually have an idea that might help to weed out some of the toxicity that tends to crop up in even the best groomed newsfeeds.
Here it is:
Stop commenting or relying publicly on FaceBook. Make your comments that are just meant for that one person, who is sharing something, a direct message. Don’t forget to reference the post you are reacting to.
I moved that paragraph from the body of the post to a box, after finishing this post. If you are anything like me the lower the information is down in the post, the less likely you are to get to it. Something shiny often gets me going off down some other rabbit hole before I finish most articles.
Here are my new guidelines for myself:
- Stop and think
- Is my comment meant only for this one person?
- Could my comment in any way make the person it is directed at uncomfortable that others besides just the two of us are seeing it.
- Will I be creeped out if a stranger makes a comment on the comment.
- Will the comment offend one of my other FaceBook friends, who I still like, even though I don’t like their beliefs?
- If YES on any of these points, send it in a direct message.
Okay, that is my new policy for myself. Try it and see if it works for you. Now for the longer part of the post, where I tell you how I came up with this idea. After all the times I have had someone, I don’t know, misunderstand one of my comments, you would have thought I would have come up with the idea of way before now.
I belong to a family group on FaceBook. It is a good way to keep up with family news. There are some family members I do not follow because they fill their FaceBook timelines with things I really do not want to see. Of course, there are family members I never want to have any contact with, and are not among my friends. They too are in the family group, but I just ignore them there, and don’t react to their posts.
The family group page has so far been a place where things are kept family oriented. I Suspect that the organizers of the group put in some time and effort to make sure that things don’t become political shouting matches, like occasionally happened over family dinners, as I was growing up.
When I go to the family page I understand that there will be things posted there that I find officeive, but those things are not out of line with what might be said at a family reunion. Like at a family reunion, I walk away without commenting.
However, I have one particularly toxic relative, who I cut off all contact with many years ago. They have been using this page to try to get at me. They started with sweet comments about the post which led to my blog. Since I have refrained from responding to those comments, this person has ramped up the vitreol. It got to a point, yesterday where one of my non-toxic relatives felt that they had to comment that the family page wasn’t the place for that sort of stuff. I was glad that they took our toxic relative to task for their behavior.
I wanted to let my non-toxic relative know that I appreciated their action, but I didn’t want to in anyway respond to the toxic relative. So I direct messaged the non-toxic relative. They responded that they had gotten in trouble with one of their parents for stepping into my business. I wrote back saying that once our toxic relative posted on the family page, it had become the family’s business.
Then I suggested that next time that they need to scold the toxic relative, to do it in a DM. That way they wouldn’t get the input of the parental unit. It was like a light going off, I realized that DMs would be very useful for things you don’t want to put out for everyone to comment on.
Below is a list of some guidelines I have made for direct messaging. It is not exhaustive, and I am sure I might add to it in the future.
- Treat DMs as personal conversation
- Share directions and information, you really want to have this one person look at
- Have thoughtful conversations
- Share random things
- Write things that you wouldn’t say to the person’s face.
- Share political beliefs, unless it is part of a greater conversation with this person.
- solicit donations
- Be rude
If it is something, which really shouldn’t be shouted out on a street corner, and you are uncomfortable sending a direct message, it is a pretty good guess, that you shouldn’t be commenting at all.
And just to repeat one of my favorite gripes: Don’t use those little emotion buttons and thumbs up, unless it is very clear what you are saying. I personally only use smiley face to punctuate my own comment or a thumbs up in messages to let you know that I got your message, but have nothing more to say. But that is just me.
If you share a post about Rep. Jones being hammered, and I post an angry face.
Am I angry at you for sharing?
Am I angry at Rep. Jones for getting hammered?
Am I angry that the article is slanted.
Am I angry that someone would say something bad about Rep. Jones drinking habits, since he is of my chosen party?
Wouldn’t it be must better if I take a moment and write, “I can’t believe they put that headline on an article about a politician volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.”
Now to end on a bright note. Direct messaging makes me really feel good that you are thinking of me and taking the time to address me personally. Thanks to those of you who have, even during the short time I have been experimenting with DMs in this expanded role.
And of course, thanks for those of you from FaceBook, who didn’t just push the thumbs up button on my post and continue on clicking reactions in the endless scroll, but instead clicked the link to read my bolg!