Civility And My Facebook Semi-Retirement

I really like Facebook. I enjoy reconnecting with old friends and being able to communicate regularly with people who mean a lot to me, but who aren’t in close proximity. I used to love Facebook because I could also enjoy lively political discussions, and meaningful discourse on social issues. But the bloom is off that rose for me.

Two things led to this fading enthusiasm. First an old flame of mine contacted me to reconnect. I was very pleased to see her message, but puzzled since I was actually the one who broke things off a LONG time ago. As it turns out, I needn’t have fretted long. Within an hour after she began chatting with me, she abruptly told me I was far too Liberal for her taste and she was un-friending me, which she did. To say I was puzzled on one hand is an understatement. Particularly since it was never a secret when we were involved before, But on the other hand, it caused me to remember why it didn’t work to start with. I chalked it up to experience, and moved on.

The second, more bothersome incident, happened when I agreed with Mitch McConnell regarding the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue from Kentucky’s Capitol Rotunda. My primary aim at sharing the post was to ask for suggestions as to possible replacements for the statue if indeed it were to be removed. Out of 65 people who weighed in; exactly FOUR did as I requested. Now that alone, isn’t the reason I snapped.

Let me veer into a bit of a tangent here. One of my hobbies and lifelong passions is American History. Specifically The American Civil War. More specifically, the role of Kentucky and West Virginia in the conflict, since I lived a good portion of my life in those states. Let’s be direct here. I KNOW the Civil War was caused by multiple issues. I know the causes and I know the aftermath. I have presented discussions at several roundtable groups on those subjects, and on Reconstruction following the war. I know the subject. (God, I sound like Donald Trump “I, I”)

Not only did the discussion veer totally afield, I had multiple posters feel the need to lecture me and anyone who would listen about why my politics and opinions were wrongheaded. Okay. I can deal with that. But when I tried to steer the thread away from the debate and back to the subject, I was accused of being revisionist, and trying to cover up something. No one is a bigger believer in retaining history than I am, warts and all. But as I also said then and will now. History is not dormant or stagnant. As time marches on, so does history evolve. To lose any of it is tragic. But not to remember newer history is negligent, and idiotic.

Well, the civil aspect of the debate totally broke down, and I am as much to blame as anyone else is. I did not react well to some of the posts, and some of them did not react well to me, and we lost the thread I really wanted to pursue. I could say it was hijacked, but that covers the bigger, and in my mind, much more nagging problem.

Civil discourse may not be dead, but it’s on life-support. I blame a lot of things. Polarization of the voting public by media and politicians. Talk Radio, and Cable TV are the prime culprits with a discussion becoming more about who yells the loudest among the myriad of voices all talking over each other at the same time–for hours on end. You can blame media homogenization for a lot of that. When so many newspapers, and radio stations are owned by one or two large corporations, varied and informed opinions will vanish quickly. It sure has.

As a result, I’m no longer part of the problem, although I am far from the solution either. Let’s just say I’m no longer an enabler of political and social mayhem on Facebook. Oh, I’ll still be there posting other stuff, and wishing friends a Happy Birthday, and of course I’ll link this page and other writings I may publish, but no more priming the pump from me. No more fanning the flames just to have a discussion. If asked, I’ll weigh-in, but no more diatribes, and no more self-imposed political and social angst.

It can be chalked up to everything I’ve indicated above. But it can also be said that the events surrounding the Charleston Massacre helped shape, and prod this decision. To read the wholesale emotional reactions of people following the shootings, then the subsequent backlash over the other subsequent events essentially turns my stomach. To think I had one iota of responsibility for any of that, is at once presumptuous of me, and seemingly puts me in the minority of people who truly worry about what their words can really do as far as inflicting pain upon others.

I like to think my positions are well thought out, and seriously deliberated, but truly, if my opinion is too much for others to live with, (and judging by some reactions it has cause some folks a lot of grief), then I am stepping back for a bit from Facebook. It’s time to reexamine priorities, and think on the subject. I hope others do as well.

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