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Well, folks, I have just had enough of Facebook for a while.

F2F Conversation MatterAlthough it used to be fun to keep up with the doings of my friends, things have deteriorated to the point the majority of postings, mine included, have become political, or even worse, ideological and extremist. Our nation, and my Facebook friends who reflect that, has become so polarized and proselytizing that my stress levels have greatly increased. I have learned that when you take on a Facebook friend, you also get their friends, and their friend’s friends. I have a fairly wide diversity of Facebook friends and as the friends of friends get added in, the vitriol just becomes too much.

The only option seems to be unfriending those with a conservative bent, even if they are moderates, given that I have a progressive bent. And that seems to conflict with what I originally wanted out of Facebook. I wanted some diversity so that rich conversations might develop. Therein lies another important point.

We are not really having real conversations on Facebook. Real conversations occur in real time and are spontaneous, and face to face. We look into each other’s eyes and connect. On Facebook as it now is, some people seem to be more concerned about how their posts and comments will be evaluated by the group than by the person they are’talking’ to. And they take the time to rewrite and edit their words – something you cannot do in a real conservation. Some people seem to want to either keep their friends at the “Goldilocks distance” (can’t think of the reference; not my original thought), not too close and not too distant, but just right. Others don’t give a s*it and post comments with terrible grammar and terrible, hateful intent.

This is not a new phenomenon. We first learned it when email was new, before the rise of texting and smart phones. When the person you are communicating with is not actually face to face with you, you cannot perceive the instantaneous facial and body feedback the recipient gives you. So you slip into the trap of not realizing how ill-chosen words can hurt, and you do not have a chance to say or do something to ameliorate their impact. It was only after you received back an email expressing the hurt your words caused that you became aware of what you have done. Often that delayed response lead to problems that were difficult to fix.

Texting has similar problems but we have learned to take more time writing and editing our exchanges, to avoid some of those problems. And when we text, we have some control of those who read them.

With the rise of Facebook, we are fast becoming a people who are desensitized to the impact of our works (or else purposely use hateful and inflammatory words). Our posts bounce around to many people, sometimes thousands, we do not know and who do not know us. We are somewhat anonymous, many people creating fake names and accounts, and trolling, looking for verbal fights.

I also now find Facebook to be a time-termite. I get sucked in and waste far too many minutes before I realize it. My verbal combat with opponents accomplishes nothing positive. Like boxers, we slug it out, trying to best/hurt our opponent, hoping for the cheers of those in our corner. But we accomplish little or nothing, save a brief ego-boost.

But neither side listens to the other. We have our minds made up and ignore facts that do not support our biases. When we get tagged (a boxing term –not the Facebook version), we retreat into our group’s perception/interpretation of the Bible or Constitution.

In the past few weeks, I thought of a question to pose my conservative opponents: Can you name one positive, productive thing Republicans have accomplished for the 99% of Americans since they have controlled both houses of Congress? I have yet to get a coherent, reasonably answer, if any answer at all.

Unfortunately, I too cannot answer that question for all the time I and other Progressives have invested in Facebook debates, we have accomplished little if anything.

It is time to put away our smart phones and tablets when we are with friends, and most importantly family, and actually have conversations. Surely, we could all turn off the technology for an hour and look at each other’s faces when we talk. We just might find again why we like each other and value each other’s ideas and opinions.

It is time to actually get out and to do something real.

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