The lessons you learn about your “Friends” … and their “Friends” is a vivid eye-opener … almost every day. And … what portrait do you paint of yourself!?
David Wesley Tonkin
May I for a moment be both totally naïve and an unabashed dreamer; would it not be delightful to strive for a more “polite society”? You know; the one Norman Rockwell’s superb visual storytelling caused us to think; or hope we had in the 1950’s.
I do not know where this moment of introspect came from; however it is fun to dream … peace and love to and for all! I like to believe that is how I selected my FB Friends … people who are dear friends and others who embody the attributes of the “polite society”; and are contributors to something worthwhile. People of whom it cannot be said that if you are in a room alone with them; you are alone in the room!
Have I been successful? Yes; in the main I think I have been resoundingly successful. My Facebook friends are a thinking, contradictory, lively, interesting and often heart-warming group! I have not had to “Unfriend” more than a few people who have in due course exhibited a side of themselves that I did not … or did not want to know. The learning-curve is decisive and rapid!
I love differences of opinion! I do not “Unfriend” for a divergence in opinions. I love to discuss and argue the nuances of a difference of opinion. Some epic bottles of Merlot, Burgundy and the sublime products of the Haut Medoc région have fueled some classic differences of opinion. I secretly admire the person who will go down in flames rather than accept defeat! I am fortunate to have a dear friend (originally a Pommy from Blighty! … An Englishman) who is a gold medal grade debater … we are as politically far apart as Jeanne d’Arc and Attila the Hun; yet fierce differences of opinion just seem to strengthen the friendship! Good on you my china-plate!
Between the 1940’s and 1970’s Walt Kelly authored and illustrated a brilliant and eternally thought provoking social commentary cartoon series named after its delightful leading character, a witty and acerbic Possum called Pogo who lived in the Okefenokee Swamp (a huge and richly diverse wildlife refuge and wetland on the Florida and Georgia border). In one of the cartoons, if I remember correctly, Pogo is initially staring into a mirror; then he turns towards the reader and says … with a look of unadulterated astonishment on his face … “I have met the enemy and he is us!” This is the type of person for whom I hit “Unfriend” with alacrity. Who is this enemy!?
They are people whose words are just conduits to logic-free hatred, malice, hurt and insult. They either cannot express or support something logically or do not have the intelligence to disagree rationally … they just copy and re-spew unadulterated nastiness and vindictiveness. One of these I rapidly Unfriended was always, from earlier days, an apparently genteel and allegedly thinking individual … this was a real and resounding shocker! This person did not disagree with you; if you had a different opinion you were for feeding into a wood-chipper!
I presume that it comes as no surprise when I say that most of the nastiness and vindictiveness I encounter revolves around two topic categories …  Politics and  Social / Ethnic Bigotry. It astonishes me to see the volume of sites that the lemming-like political radical or bigot can harvest their maliciousness from and then “Share”.
Then there are the “gloom-and-doom” merchants … they are the people who have the uncanny ability to scan the Internet and on an almost daily basis “Share” really horrific news, opinions and surveys about health issues, blood-thirsty crime stories, political and religious woes, grievances about the youth of today and just life in general. I had one of these on my “Friend” list for a while. I let her stay as I was initially intrigued how a person could find and see fit to disseminate this type of horrendous litany of gloom-and-doom every day! When I noticed that it was starting to negatively affect me I hit the “Tora-Tora-Tora” button!
One particular inspiring and heart-warming bright spot are the “Friends” who are so dedicated to, active in and passionate about a cause that benefits our society. My favorite are the remarkable people who work so hard every single day in the championing of animal rights, pet adoption, and effective and just animal cruelty legislation. They make that early morning coffee and Facebook scan moment an enriching experience.
To all those amazing women who post the most incredible epicurean recipes for everything from mouth-watering South African braaivleis [barbeque] marinades, French haut cuisine, exotic breads to sublime comfort foods … my gratitude! However … I cannot cook as well as you; so please just make the dish … I will pick it up! I actually am incredibly fortunate to have a “Saint” of a neighbor who, bless her perfect generous heart, does this on a regular basis. It is the world’s most superior gift of kindness … and food!
I have found that Facebook has been a valuable and very quick way to find past friends lost over time and renew the connection despite us being scattered all over the globe. It is so fascinating to see how people’s lives have evolved and where their careers, families, passions and energies have taken them. It is also wonderful to see those who remain “rock-solid” good people over the years and then there are the surprises … the people who have evolved a role and purpose for their lives that is astonishing!
One of these people is a woman I worked for back in the big corporation days. I greatly admired her really inspiring and genuine leadership (leadership, as opposed to HR- endorsed manage-by-numbers, is a rare commodity in large corporations) at that time … it is heart-warming and astonishing to see via FB posts how she has perfectly blended an ever-escalating career with a generous, balanced and caring family life.
We all need to remember that FB is our 21st century “mirror-image” or Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray resume! It is us; a lot more “loosely” portrayed than our businesslike Linkedin profile. We need to remember too … “I have met the enemy and he is us!” … Think about the portrait you paint! I am going to!