I got “unfriended” from Facebook the other day—by a guy I consider a friend, and he had the guts to write and tell me why.  An aside before I get into that: I’ve never “unfriended” anybody, but I’ve “friended” people whom I really have to stretch to call “friends”, not that I have anything against them, but because the connection is so tenuous that…well, I might do some “unfriending” myself.  I don’t accept every friend request; if I honestly don’t know the person from Adam’s housemaid, then I ignore the friend request, which I did twice in the past day.  Some folks, of course, “friend” every person who requests it, even if they have never had any connection with the person.  I don’t get that.  I don’t know why anybody would want to “friend” me if I have zero connection with the person; I sure don’t.

But I digress.  As I said, this friend “unfriended” me over some of the posts I’ve made on this blog, not because they’re on this blog, but because through a utility known as Wordbook, my blog posts—including this one—will be automatically published to Facebook.  He comes from a different political persuasion than do I (hey, he needs to read what I write, huh?), but his point was that in some posts, I’ve gone over the line in my terminology, in using what he calls “intemperate language”, and what particularly cheeses him is the fact that on Facebook, some (not a lot) of my friends are kids, but even there, my posts show up on the sites of all my friends, and are thus seen by friends of friends, many more of whom are likely kids.  That’s his beef.

And he’s right.

I went back and looked at two months’ worth of posts, and found two posts that, in my mind, clearly went over the line in this regard.  They have both been removed.  Both were posted in my frustration, in relation to Obamacare, and I have made no secret of the fact that while I very much favor health care reform, wholeheartedly oppose this plan, for a variety of reasons.  All well and good—but it is incumbent upon me to phrase my opposition—even as I  might employ cynicism and other rhetorical devices—in such a way that I maintain appropriate respect for the principles involved.  Even when I believe they have acted dishonestly, or have breached integrity—and I have plenty of examples which I’d point to to prove, to my satisfaction, that this has been the case—I still need to be careful in my language.  I have not been, in at least those two examples, and thus they’re gone, though one can’t put the cat very well back into the bag vis a vis Facebook.  Further, I’m engaged in a great, constructive conversation with my “unfriend”, in which I’ve asked him to look through his lens and give me additional feedback.  Funny…my “unfriend” is acting like a true friend in doing this for me…

And so, I’m going to try, given this perspective, to apply a new test to the wording of my posts: call it the “Little Eyes are Reading on Facebook” test. I’ll still be strong in my criticism of whatever needs criticizing, IMHO—but I’m going to try to do a better job of engaging in it in a civil manner.  Funny…or sad…I decry the devolution of civility in public discourse—but maybe I’ve done some things to contribute to it.  I’m sorry for that.

James reminds us that the tongue is a mighty flame, and a great fire can be kindled by it.  The pen—or the pixel—is as well.  That’s something we all could stand to remember, be our ideology conservative, liberal, libertarian, you name it.  I know I need to.  Thanks, “unfriend”, and I look forward to our ongoing conversation—even if I need to be further taken to the woodshed…

9 responses »

  1. I think it’s great that your (former?) friend is willing to tell you what bothered him. I’ve been unfriended by people without having any idea how I offended them. You can’t address a problem you’re unaware of.

    At any rate, I’m glad your posts show up on Facebook — I wouldn’t have found your blog otherwise.

  2. jen says:

    This is one thing I’ve liked about you. You are not one of those people who are so staunch in their views that they will not even listen to any constructive criticism. Yet you remain a man of principle.

    Although I must say that I never recall you being uncivil.

  3. Jeff Kisiah says:

    BH,

    Nice job with objectivity…well done with a teachable spirit…good effort with constructive critique…divine favor with such a posture…now about those Clemson/Carolina “rantings?” 🙂

  4. sherry says:

    I second Jen’s remarks..up until the “uncivil” part. 😉 lol of course she may not have seen you on the losing side of a softball game….

    I will say, however, that FB rules state that nobody under 13 should be on FB. I would also think that anyone 13 or older, whose parents are willing to FIRST let them be on FB and SECOND allow them to friend adults, should be prepared to handle what is there. It is public no matter how you shake it down. Any posts by ANYONE that do not meet a person’s criteria for a teenager’s eyes is fodder for discussion with said teen about what’s been posted. Was it too critical? Was it appropriate for a Christian to say? etc. Teaching moments!

    So, Byron, while it is excellent that you continue to learn to temper your *ahem* enthusiasm in your opinions….we as parents must also take responsibility, just as your friend did! Your friend was most excellent in making his choice and in sharing with you as well. I commend him, and you, for transparency and honesty and efforts to make things better!

    Glad to have you as a friend on FB.

  5. Bobbi Philson says:

    Wow, Byron, your blog post is impressive today. I appreciate civil discourse also, especially among Christians.

  6. jen says:

    I didn’t read any of the posts in question, but it also seems to me that the total garbage readily available on FB HAS to be worse than anything you might have said…

  7. Don says:

    The No Kool Aid Zone: Safe for the Whole Family

  8. Graham says:

    I figure that about 80% of friends requests I get on Facebook are from people I don’t know.

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