Facebook Rights & Wrongs

Welcome to Format Free Fridays at AskDrDarcy.com, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited advice.

Today I’m going to talk about one of my least favorite topics:  Self-critique. That’s actually misleading:  I’m fine speaking about self-critique as long as it’s pertaining to you.  I find the topic less appealing is when it’s directed towards me.  But I can’t grow if I don’t see opportunities for change and I recently caught myself doing something that I wasn’t too proud of.

Back in October I posted something on my Facebook wall pertaining to climate change.  Even as I hit the post button I knew I was opening myself up to criticism.  You see, it wasn’t even Halloween and it had snowed so severely in the tri state area that Halloween was postponed.  Having grown up in New Jersey, I’ve never seen snow before late November (nor was I aware that an American holiday could be rescheduled) and I felt compelled to reference the unseasonal snowfall as evidence of climate change.  Within moments a good friend, who holds some fairly conservative views, commented, disagreeing with my concerns that the snow was due to climate change.   I should mention that this friend is one of my oldest friends (not chronologically…actually, yes, chronologically, but I’m referencing the length of time we’ve known each other) and our differing political and religious views have never been a stumbling block for either of us.  In fact, he’s one of the most accepting and loving people I know.  He also got me through one of the most difficult times in my life, for which I’ll always be grateful.  Though you wouldn’t have known it to read my response to his comment.

It’s not that I said anything overtly mean or inappropriate.  In the moment, I thought I was completely within my rights to ask him to abstain from posting on my wall when he disagrees with me.  I wanted my wall to be a “safe place” for me to express my liberal views without the concern that I’d have to defend them.  But what I’ve come to realize is that having the right to do something doesn’t necessarily make it right.  And I didn’t realize that until I caught myself being a complete hypocrite, once again, on Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend (who I think of as a little brother in need of an ass whipping every now and then…a task which I’ve embraced) made a comment on his wall about the Penn State sex scandal.  I found his comment to be offensive and didn’t hesitate to tell him to shut the fuck up.  But I did it in a fucked up way. I basically told him that since he has no formal education about sex abuse, he isn’t qualified to have an opinion.  And then a few days ago, in a rare quiet moment, my hypocrisy hit me: If my conservative friend can’t disagree with me on my wall, what gives me the right to disagree with someone on theirs?

So here’s where I stand on the subject of Facebook posts:  You can post anything you want, either on my wall or on your own.  Facebook is a place to share your opinion, even when it’s contrary to mine.  And I will, of course, weigh in on my opinion from time to time, even on your wall.  But regardless of where I stand on an issue, I promise not to shame you into thinking that you need a PhD to have an opinion.  And to both of my friends, I’m sorry.  I am very much a work in progress.