facebook-announces-clickable-hashtags-resolution-media-17As we wrap up this old year of 2016, it is unfortunate that so many people have died, so much “sturm und drang” has been created by politics and so many friendships of long-standing have been crushed by poor management of time and words expended on-line.

Some background. I adore Facebook, can you tell? I do not use it to brag or to list my ailments or beg for things to be reposted or to feel superior to others. I adore it because it allows me to share pictures and to stay in touch with scores of people with whom I have worked over the last 45+ years. I actually am regularly in touch with nearly every woman I ever seriously dated. Most are Facebook friends. I do not dispose of people. And Facebook allows me to stay in touch. I especially enjoy it when a friend from ABC ends up trading comments with a friend from CNBC and then my cousin joins in the chat. I love seeing pictures of friends’ kids gowing up and their pets and their own photographic endeavors. I love the #tbt pictures and the sharing of links to smart articles published elsewhere. THAT is what social media is all about!

BUT here’s where I might have some strange ideas. I see my page on Facebook as my “driveway.” I write on it in chalk. You may too, but do not come on to my driveway and write nasty things or argue with the person who owns the driveway or others who draw there. If you pass by and see some drawing and like it, say something nice. If you don’t like it, keep driving.

When we were kids in school, there was a report card character grade listed as “works and plays well with others.” People who can do this usually are good Facebook friends. They  respect the friendship, they keep nasty comments to themselves and try to be a cheerleader and a booster of spirits.

Thus, no one normal would come by a page and see that my cat has died and respond with ” I hate cats.” Nor would someone normal see a post about an illness and chastise the poster for being sick or posting about it. Even if you don’t think such postings are appropriate, who would criticize?

The other day someone came on my page, decided that something I posted, which was verified and well sourced was “fake news” and proceeded to jump on to the thread and complain about “fake news.” And this is not someone with a news background because if it was, I would have taken notice. I can be wrong and appreciate being corrected. In this case, I pointed out the sourcing and this person continued arguing to the point where I just killed his entire thread. I later found him complaining on someone else’s page about my “issues.”  At that point I unfriended him and blocked him. It’s sad because over the last 40 years we have been friends and I have gone out of my way to be kind, generous and even helped a member of his family remain employed.

What is it about Facebook that allows people to feel they need not be polite, need not respect others’ feelings and can ride roughshod over all the usual conventions of good manners in the off-line world?

As we head into the new year, please note: If you don’t like something someone has said, you can click a box and no longer see the post; you can drop them from your news feed; you can unfriend them; and if it is really awful, you can block them, never to be seen again.

But please remember these are our “driveways” … our own slates upon which to draw and write. And your ability to work and play well with other applies on-line too.