In 2013, most people I know are on Facebook. There are 500 million accounts, along with 500 million jokes people make about being on Facebook. I joined to keep in touch with my family, near and far; kind of like my own personal newsletter. I get to observe and communicate with people I’ve met through mutual interests.
With that being said, I think Facebook is a curse. I think the majority of people cannot understand how electronic communication works. They don’t understand that reading comments or status updates which doesn’t reveal tone or cadence of voice, you don’t hear the chuckle in someone’s voice, and God forbid someone doesn’t type ‘lol’, could be cause for offense.
People have fallen out of the habit of letter writing in general. They don’t sit down at a desk with a fresh piece of paper and pour out their daily lives to someone who may not read it until several days later. They don’t know how to communicate effectively to another person using just their words; to explain e their feelings and thoughts in a clear and concise manner.
Not that everyone has to be Hemingway, but even when speaking to each other I’m sure one of us has heard at a family gathering ‘what did you mean by that?” said in an angry voice.
These are same people who are your friends on Facebook. Some people have a habit of taking the worse possible meaning of a saying or phrase and making it more than it ever was intended to be. Unfriending someone has become the modern day ‘cut direct.’ We have taken status updates and off-handed comments and blown them up to epic proportions.
I have recently had some experience with this. An offhanded joke was taken ‘personally’ causing major problems between at least 3 family members. Over a bad joke! Now everyone is in an uproar.
My only contradiction is that I communicate better through the written word. I find myself flustered in confrontation and I am always finding ‘the point I was trying to make’ 30 minutes after the fight is over. I often write out my feelings in order to give them some semblance of order, and then read them back when my anger has cooled. I find that sometimes my anger colors my judgment and causes me to overreact (shocking huh?)
I guess the real point of this rambling is, in order to ‘understand and communicate’ effectively electronically, is to remember the following things…
Consider whose comments you are reading. My brothers have a bit of a dry sense of humor which can come off as ‘biting.’ I take that into account when reading anything they write.
Taking ‘vague status updates’ personally. Don’t assume their entire world revolves around you. Vague statuses are more about getting attention that might lead to venting. It’s like people who complain really loud waiting for someone to ask them ‘Ohh what’s wrong?’
Don’t assume the worse. Grandma taught you that rhyme right? Ass of you and me.
Don’t place importance of how many likes you get on a picture or an update. It has no direct bearing on whether or not you are loved by that person.
Facebook is where people show you their ‘highlights’ not their actual life. Don’t allow comparison to how good it looks like someone else has it to your life. Comparison is the thief of joy. Things are never as great as they seem.
And last but certainly not least, if someone is a clear cut nuisance, hide or unfriend without fuss. You don’t need a PR announcement. Just click and be happy.