Recently one of my Facebook pals posted a series of status updates that offended one of their friends. At the time when I saw the posts, I found nothing wrong with them. I did think my pal had done it for the joke-factor more than anything else. But one of their friends didn’t find it funny; in fact they’d gone so far as to unfriend them.
I’d also commented on the post at the time and saw their response to the update under mine, no less! *smiles* And I ‘liked’ theirs, even though it contradicted mine. Why, you might ask. Because they were right.
I was wrong. And they were right. I acknowledged that by ‘liking’ the comment. But I didn’t comment further on it.
I went on with my life and then much later in the evening, I opened up my Facebook again and saw an apology update from my friend. It seemed sincere to me, so I ‘liked’ what they’d done. I thought it showed maturity and respect for others. Also the willingness to admit, look I might’ve made a mistake here.
Then I read the comments under the apology status…and well I pulled a face and rolled my eyes at the ‘why should you apologize it’s your profile’ stank of entitlement. It displayed the typical behavior now found on social media, where people treat their profiles (owned not by them) as if it were their personal property where they could spew, post, attach, etc. anything and think no one would notice or care about what they did.
In real life, you know the real world where we have to get out from behind our laptops and get blown away by blizzards and scorched by the sun, and taste fuel on our tongues, you know that life; people do point out when you’re doing something offensive or insulting. So why believe that on social media this wouldn’t apply?
In fact, in real life we’re probably less likely to do or say something offensive. Or if we do say something, our friends and family who know us well, would know that we didn’t mean to offend. But look, I’m in South Africa, you’re in… (Insert your country)…we do not know each other personally. More to the point, we add people on social media constantly, so I might only be aware of you for a couple of weeks and know you like to post pictures of cats. That’s all.
So the first mistake most people seem to make is to assume that they can do and say whatever they want. You can’t. Life doesn’t work that way. Ask Hitler.
I silently applauded my friend’s response and privately (not online) dumped on the rest.
There are always two sides to a story, and in this case I read both. I acknowledged my own wrongfulness from the other person’s point of view. Just because what I found as funny didn’t translate as a joke in theirs, didn’t make them wrong and me right. It meant we interpret the world differently.
And someone who doesn’t realize this about humanity comes across as immature.
And here’s another thing, as authors we are public figures. Some of us are just more well-known than others, but it doesn’t exempt us. We need to pay attention when someone points out online behavior they don’t like, and then evaluate their critique. Discuss it with someone if you need to. Then respond appropriately.
I love how this friend didn’t dismiss the person and also apologized to others who might not have been brave enough to step forward and say, ‘look that’s not cool’, especially if it’s someone, like this person, who seems to have a big enough following on Facebook to cause serious upheaval.
I applaud both of them. The one for acknowledging the other’s worldview and the other for pointing out a point of view others in their position might not have had courage to shine a light on.