I read a post in Facebook saying that doctors hid cures in order to make money.  I posted back:  “How dare you!!  I practiced for 20 years and wanted nothing more than to see a cure for the stream of patients with headaches, backaches, limb pain, dizziness, Workmen’s Compensation cases and depression (back when depression, a treatable disease, was not a mainstream diagnosis, and people equated the disorder with being crazy).  I actively de-marketed my practice.  Yes, I wanted to see fewer patients.”

Then, I deleted the post.

The two best things I’ve done on Facebook are:

1.  Been silent.

2.  Deleted a post shortly after I wrote it.

Over time, I have seen people disappear from Facebook for a month or so, a so-called “digital vacation”.  The idea is tempting, and with a trip to Alaska coming in the near future, I may just add a couple of weeks to my disappearance.

Facebook has been helpful in that it has allowed me to know about the few family members I have left.  I know about my nieces, whom I would otherwise not, and I connected with a camp where I guided canoe trips in 1967.  The late Steve Pawlowski, whom I unfortunately never met in person, was part of the Arizona Water Sentinels; his posts about the drought in the West and climate in general were excellent.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of other stuff I have seen on Facebook which doesn’t sit well with me.  I’m sure some of my posts don’t sit well with others.  Research has shown that looking for certain posts can be beneficial, but “Facebook surfing” is correlated with depression. That is my impression.

Each of us approaches Facebook differently.  The attitudes of others aren’t necessarily wrong; however, they are not likely to be consonant with mine. I don’t, for example, agree with all the “fluff” sayings I see, like if one just tries hard enough, one can succeed at anything.  Indeed, I find that cruel, for it implies that if one fails, he just didn’t try hard enough.  It ignores the possibility that maybe one was not suited for the task, did not have the physical or mental ability, or could not devote his entire life to the task.  For me, wisdom is knowing when to quit, to give up, to stop.  Some disagree.  Having failed to change medicine after five years didn’t make me want to continue a sixth.  I found that a wise decision.

The lack of face-to-face interaction, ironic for the name “Facebook,” allows people to easily insult others, the young to insult the old, which I find rude, and to post comments I find reprehensible, racist, in bad taste, ignorant, and poorly written.  People don’t ask themselves, “Do I really want to say that in public?”   Face-to-face, many of these posts would not be said.  De facto anonymity is on Facebook; a third of my “friends” I have never and will never see; most of the others I will not see in the next year.

The worst posts, the most depressing, have been clips from right-wing news sources.  It took me too long to figure out that I could selectively block these sites and still see other posts from the rational side of the poster.  Facebook for many is an outlet for spiteful comments directed towards people who view the world the way I do:  I see posts on politics that may or may not be true, comments written by Americans who are either ignorant of the English language or don’t proofread what they write.  If something bad happens, it is my fault, or “the government’s fault” (the Democratic Party part, that is), showing lack of awareness that we are the government; any of us can run for office to fix things.  People I have never heard of and never will meet say astoundingly horrible things.  An American Mormon posted, “we ought to nuke all of Mexico.”  Wow, that is really godly behavior.  On a language web site, an Algerian saw my profile and told me it was a shame that as a non-Muslim, I would be going to hell.  Both would have done well to be silent.  I was.

Two young women, each a third my age, who insulted me got no rejoinder, only permanent silence.  Defriending is too strong and noticeable.  Silence is…..silence.

Many of these posts and comments deserve to be called out on their nastiness, spite, vitriol, and outright falsehood or looseness with the truth. But what’s the point?  Those who post these “news” items will not be influenced by anything I write.  They see their posts as truth, espousing simple solutions to complex problems, getting many “likes” from similar-minded people.

I am at a disadvantage in answering, because I process slowly, writing better when I have time to think about what I say, before I allow others to read it.  Many would do well to follow my example.  There is no sense becoming embroiled in a climate change debate with one who believes that everything is fine, that it is a plot by environmentalists, uses poor or no statistical evidence, and makes no predictions as to what will happen in the near future.  I won’t influence them.  I am capable of being influenced, but not by unscientific, hateful comments.

The best comments are short; long missives aren’t going to be read, any more than a bumper sticker on a car that tries to say too much will be.

Shortness works on Facebook.  Humor works.  Well written comments work.  Silence works really well.  I’ll make my posts here, because I have as much time as I need to try to say what I want.  Even then, I won’t always get it right.



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