Monday, May 18, 2009

Acceptable Behavior

The water is blue. The temperature is a moderate 68 degrees, but the sailboats are gone. It's Monday. The flotilla had to return to the office to make some money to pay for the expensive habit. Back again this next weekend, no doubt, in copious numbers. If you hadn't noticed, this coming weekend will be Memorial Day weekend, the official kickoff of the summer season. Let's just hope that some summer temperatures finally arrive in Streeterville. Getting mighty tired of this light jacket thing. Looking forward to some shorts and flip flops weather.

I like to tackle all of the major issues besetting humanity in my posts, and today is no different. I've been wondering, "What is acceptable behavior on Facebook? When is it crossing the line into the unacceptable?" For the most part Facebook is pretty loosey goosey and most things are acceptable, but sometimes people say things or post things that sort of stick in your craw. Know what I mean?

Facebook is pretty innocuous most times. You friend your real friends, your family, a few assorted people you went to high school or college with. You take stupid quizzes. Everyone navel gazes and posts crap about their day and what they're doing at any given moment and it's OK. People kibitz and kid one another, and it's OK.

Then there is a lot of blatant self-promotion that goes on. I have musician friends who use it pretty exclusively to promote their careers, where they're playing, etc. I have writer friends who use it as a place to promote their work, their blogs. Who me? Why I'd never....Ok maybe once or twice. Then there are Facebook friends who you don't really know, but who have friended you so they can promote their acting careers, their radio shows, their art exhibits. Know what? That's OK too. It's all a part of the phenomenon that is Facebook. It is true that I defriended a radio station that had a Facebook page as though it were a person. That was all too blatant advertisement. I kept their morning DJ, who I listen to as I drive to work as a friend, but the station's call letters as a friend, no.

The thing that's been bugging me, though, is that some people use Facebook as a forum for their agendas. I pursue personal agendas here in this space on a regular basis, but not on Facebook. Specifically, religious and political agendas are things that I think should be declared off-limits on Facebook. I have religious relatives, atheist friends, gay friends, friends with politics from the left, high school acquaintances with leanings to the right. Some things are bound to offend someone. Some things are going to offend me. Want to call me a friend on Facebook? Don't post that silly crap. Don't want to see it on my Facebook page.

So what am I talking about specifically? I am an openly leftist individual with a serious lack of religion in my life, with artsy leanings, and some very liberal views on people's rights to have their sex lives left alone. On several occasions during the last Presidential election, someone I am related to made disparaging remarks on Facebook regarding my candidate, including, "If Obama gets elected, I'm going to Canada." I let that slide, in spite of the fact that I was thinking, "So move yourself to Canada. Dare you. They're even more liberal there than we are here. They have National Healthcare, and pay taxes out the wazoo." At any rate, I let that slide, in spite of the fact that I found it a bit embarassing. I've spent a lifetime carefully cultivating a group of like-minded friends, most of whom are Facebook friends and if they came to my page, they would see this stuff, and in all likelihood go, "Who is this right-wing bigot on R.D.'s page?"

After the election, the same relative began making lots of "Praise Jesus. He rules," kind of statements and it began to get a little touchy with me, being a non-religious sort and all (I believe the word is atheist, OK?) Then said relative began promoting books. One was a book by some moron who claimed that he was an atheist when he was younger, but had now seen the light. This was dangerously close to an attack on me personally. All I could think was that this guy couldn't be very bright in the first place if he was just claiming atheism as a rebellion against something and then recanted at the first opportunity. Nevertheless, I let it slide.

Then came the capper. Said relative, posts a promotion for a book that claimed to show the errors in logic of evolution, and how it cannot possibly be real science. I blew a gasket. This was first of all an embarassment to me to have someone I'm related to promoting creationism on my Facebook page, but more to the point, it was just stupid. Science is based on observation and fact. Religion is based on faith in something that cannot be observed or proven. Evolution is proven fact. Religion is not. In one quick and easy stroke, I defriended a relative. OH SHIT!

The thing is, however, my Facebook page was starting to annoy me with all of this religiosity on it. Now the religiosity was gone. It was good. I, no doubt created a stir in the family, who I keep at a distance for a good reason, but in my world, life was a little better. Everyone else on my page knew how to behave appropriately. They amused me. They didn't piss me off.

Now there is the girl I went to high school with who posted some National Rifle Association inspired, Republican propaganda that really annoyed me. It was just the once, but hey, "To friend or not to friend?" Hmmmm. We'll see.

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