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My Guidelines for Using Facebook

I do quite a bit on Facebook. I have friends from the far right to the far left. Here are some guidelines I follow:

I don’t respond out of painful emotion or use my post for a session.

I don’t share sarcastic memes or “humor.”

I only forward things that convey information, and I try to have these not be “anti” anything but just correct information with perhaps a small comment from me.

I post lots of nature photos. I share music videos and other examples of upward-trend creativity. I want to build a picture of myself that interests people. Friends on the left and right enjoy my pictures of times with my family and of nature.

I have two motivations for my posts: One is to encourage my political base. The other is to engage with people who are not of my base in a way that doesn’t push them further away, sound condescending, and so on. I like to use things from my personal experience; people can’t take offense at these so easily as something directed at them.

(Remember, we want to keep these friends.)

I think it is always better to respond in my own voice than to just forward something.

It is good not to leave a lie or an appeal to distress unchallenged—but not so good to argue. I might say, “My Muslim friends are having a hard time because of this”—again, making it personal. If they respect me, they will listen to what I say.

I often appreciate people I disagree with on some things by agreeing with them on other things or appreciating that they are thoughtful people. Many of them are.

I sometimes lightly interrupt exchanges between friends that start to get ugly—“Ouch! A little harsh.” It’s good to stick up for [speak in favor of] respecting people we disagree with.

I share news that people will not get from other sources (for example, news from Standing Rock) and try to get the most personal and least reactive news I can.

I think we have to remember that we are in this for the long haul [for a long period of time] and don’t want to alienate people.

Many people do not know how to express their thoughts, so they grab memes that convey their feelings but not necessarily what they think. I try to engage people off-line, too, and often find that their actual thoughts are much more complex than they can state in a post. It is good to always expect the best from them and to invite that.

Dan Nickerson

Freeport, Maine, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for USA issues

(Present Time 187, April 2017)

Last modified: 2020-07-01 08:33:43+00