On Facebook. (a soliloquy)

FB 101: the caged animal
Social media is an interesting animal for artists. Yes, it’s an animal we need to be involved with. But I’m of the belief that involvement needs to be temperate, purposeful, and well thought through.

Here’s what I mean.

Reasons for FB
Each of us use social media for different reasons. I began using Facebook simply to communicate with my family and friends. I moved out of state, and my FB community helped me feel connected. I think that’s a pretty good use for FB.

I still communicate with family and friends, but now there’s more. I share what inspires me. I let people in on what’s important to me. And I let people know what I’m doing with my writing, because writing’s an important part of my life. Finally, what I write (and teach) can help others. So I share it. No arm twisting, no guilt-making, no blatant selling. It’s simply sharing a part of me. Pretty basic.

What we do on FB…is it really so benign?
FB can be simple pablum to keep the mind busy. We all know the FB posts with pictures of cats and dogs, what I ate for breakfast, and selfies. Games, stupid Siri corrections, and funny videos make us laugh…and waste our time.

FB can also be inspiring. FBers post encouraging didleys to “hang in there” and true-life stories that make us cry. (The ultimate optimist, I’m a sucker for these.) Encouragement is there for those who want it.

But. Let’s talk. Care of this animal called Facebook may be basic. But the animal’s not safe, by any means. No.

FB Dangers
FB can be volatile. I’ve posted little bits that I thought were benign that turned into name calling. Yeah. As soon as I picked my jaw up off the floor, I deleted the post, unfriended, and took a deep breath. Funny how the anonymity of FB gets people to say things they’d most likely never say in person. Oh. And let’s not get started on politics. Scathing indictments of political figures are common. Embarrassing photoshopped craziness that makes even the crass blush. And, and, and. Parents shame kids, kids bully so-called friends, and people rant. And rant. And rant. (So not needed.)

Social concerns, religion, and politics
Each of us has a different tolerance for social, religious, and political comments. I know someone with a “three strikes you’re out” policy: if you post three times in the social, religious, or political realm, he unfriends you. An interesting approach. Unfortunately, if we go that route on anything that hints of the Big Three, we isolate ourselves from ideas that sharpen our awareness. Not every person with a different view from ours is out to lunch, stupid, or insensitive. I want to be someone known as considerate and open to others’ views. Kind and actionable. With positive relationship that’s authentic — even if we differ. Hey, we all have value. Tolerance, a word I’m not particularly fond of but applicable here, goes all ways.

Feeling used on FB…
FB can be used in business. Selling. I say can be, not should be. Poster beware: With FB’s philosophical foundation of friendship, once a person moves to “selling speak,” the reader feels violated. Used. I feel strongly on this one: Don’t use friendships to sell. Tell, don’t sell (it’s different). Telling says, here’s what I do. Here’s something new (if it is). Just letting you know, in case you’re interested. Post done. Going on and on about the joys of the effectiveness of a product is not what people came to see or experience in your friendship (unless your page is clear that it’s a business page). And even doing that much can feel touchy, as if you’re using the friendship for gain. If I never see you on FB except for posting about buying into your business, I’m onto you. Not good.

Emotional spewing
Speaking of touchy, FB can be way too “open,” sharing anxiety, sadness, depression, hurt, and a myriad of personal experiences that are best kept to close family and friends. Trust your feelings to one-on-one meetings and phone calls with those who care about you. And if someone did something illegal, call the cops. One more thing: I don’t want to know about your bodily functions. Really. It may be funny to you but, trust me, I don’t want to know. (Yes, my professional opinion of you just plummeted went you posted that video about the fart. For all the world to see. It wasn’t funny, and the damage that it does to your character, as a whole, isn’t worth it. Bring it up to something I would admire. Please.)

What’s your temperature?
The bottom line: Whatever you post, it gives the world a temperature of who you are. We emote temperature. Every word that we type tells those reading what we’re like at the core. And I’m not just talking about what we value; I’m talking about our attitude. Our tone emotes.

Tone and temperature…
Tone comes through everything we write. Your outlook on life bleeds through your words. We get a sense of who you are, on the inside. That can be fabulous or terrible. (Think about it.) When a person thinks of us (not just on FB but at any time in life), he or she feels that temperature. Test it out, right now. Think of one friend of Facebook. Someone who posts quite a bit. Don’t you get a certain feeling about the individual, purely on the history of his or her posts?

I thought so.


Facebook and the artist
As an artist/creator/writer, you’ll be told that you MUST use FB. And Twitter. And blogging. Social media is a part of the artist/creator/writer’s life. It behooves us to be intentional about this animal called Facebook — and all the caged animals on social media that can bite. Nothing we write is benign. Every jit and tiddle on the page counts, creating a temperature and tone to who we are to the world. Jit and tiddle wisely.


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