Posted by David Oates 2 months ago

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A good friend of mine who used to frequent my Facebook feed with prolific musings on life and work announced recently a hiatus from the social media site. While not the first time from some of my contacts, this one took me back. Her writings were always cleverly written, clear in point, generous in spirit and a joy to read.

I feel a bit of a loss by my friend’s self-imposed break, but not surprised by the action. In announcing her decision, she reasoned that Facebook no longer operated as an inclusive community, but instead a repository of anger, ridicule and uncivil discourse. I can’t disagree. Over the years, I find myself sifting through disruptive, vitriolic diatribe by more of my connections. I’d love for Facebook to return to its place of fun and enjoyment.

I heard Mark Zuckerberg state that actions were forthcoming to remove hate from its social media engine. I applaud this move, but won’t wait for them to take action. The fact remains that making Facebook great again will require all of us to hold ourselves accountable to do the following:

  • Be Kind. Treat folks with respect, particularly those with whom you don’t agree on issues. Remember that these individuals have family members who love them and, for the most part, treasure life and others. Facebook tends to give people the false permission to say and act in ways they wouldn’t do in person. 
  • Back Up Beliefs With Stats, Not Hyperbole. If you desire to express an opinion concerning an issue of the day, by all means, state so. When you do, back up your position with empirical data and avoid shouting down those who oppose your viewpoint. You’ll get farther with your argument when you don’t denigrate others in the process.
  • Remember What Got You Connected To Others On Facebook In The First Place. The social media site enables you to engage others, but only if the other party agrees to it. That means you share some common bond with everyone on Facebook. Keep that mind when you post something.

I’m a marketer by trade and, therefore, an avid user of Facebook and other social media tools. I don’t intend to change that anytime soon. Nevertheless, I will be sure that my professional and personal actions on these sites adhere to those three principles. I’ll also work hard to encourage all my contacts to do the same. I believe that recommitting to civility will help Facebook regain its stature as a community that binds people together, not divide them. More important, I hope that doing so will bring my friend back.

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