A Heart-to-Heart Conversation with Facebook

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Facebook, you and I need to have a little talk.

When I signed on to social media in 2008, I did so at the urging of my son-in-law, who told me Facebook was a great way to keep up with my family and friends and to share photos and life experiences with them. It would also be a quick way, he assured me, to check in with my family to know what was going on in their lives and to keep them updated on what was happening in mine.

Facebook, you have let me down. Or rather, people on Facebook have let me down. And I am angry that I can’t visit you now and then to touch base with my family and friends without getting upset. Instead, when I open my Facebook page, I am bombarded with stuff I have no desire to see, hear, or know about.

I’m talking primarily about the recent presidential election. I was for neither candidate, and I felt that we had pretty poor choices for our country’s leadership. But one of them was elected, and I am still – three months later – reading horrible things from both camps about the other. I understand that you are an avenue for people to express their opinions and beliefs, but I don’t understand why I have to read through these in an effort to find the kind of news I want to see. Before you were part of my life, I didn’t know (or care) who won the Golden Globe Award or what the winner’s speech was about. I wasn’t subjected to venomous rantings about people who followed certain political parties (and I am talking about BOTH of them). I wasn’t exposed to the hatred that seems to permeate throughout the postings on your pages.

I have already unfriended some folks that I really care about, because they are using you as their platform for airing their grievances, fears, and anger to the universe. And I am seriously considering saying goodbye to you altogether. I hate to do this, because I truly enjoy keeping in touch with my Facebook friends, looking at photos of children and grandchildren, learning about travel and life events, finding delicious new recipes and neat DIY ideas, and offering up a prayer when someone is hurting or ill. This week I have watched as my son travels cross-country to his new home in California from New York, and I have savored each message and photo that he has posted along his way. I have also celebrated a few birthdays with some dear friends, and have read about life milestones, major decisions, and other bits of personal news that I wouldn’t know about if it weren’t for your presence in my life.

Facebook, I have tried to figure out a way to block messages that I don’t want to look at. As a librarian, I would love to catalog them into neat little boxes, and then have the ability to choose those categories I want to look at. But I don’t have that luxury or choice, beyond your birthday bar on my personal bulletin board. I have to plow through the venom to get to the new grandchild, the family reunion, the latest travel destination, or the graduation celebration.

On a personal basis, I have to admit that I am easily sucked in. I have a hard time scrolling past items that look distasteful to me. I am compelled to give them a quick perusal, almost always ending up with an upset stomach and angrily clicking off of you until I can settle down and breathe normally. This is not my idea of social media. It seems more like anti-social media to me.

I don’t know what to do, Facebook.

I am holding on by a thread and not pulling the plug completely yet, because I know you have many redeeming qualities that I value. But I am not happy with you, Facebook, not one bit. And I’m not sure what to do about it.

For now, I think I will continue to write in my blog and share my collection of days with my Facebook friends. And, yes, I will use you as my portal for sharing what I write. I will also post photos on your pages that I want to save and share.

But I’m going to have to think long and hard about what our relationship is going to be for the future. Facebook, you and I are in serious trouble. I think we need to separate for awhile and give each other some needed space. Whether we split for good will be something to consider down the road. I am hoping our relationship can be salvaged and that we can reconcile our problems. There is so much good in you, and so much potential, I can’t cut the cord quite yet.

Facebook, I have some thinking to do.

Election Thoughts from the Circulation Desk

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As I sit at the circulation desk observing the students scattered across the room, still in the library this late in the afternoon, I look around the room, soaking in all that it has to offer, including the yellow-white rays of the late afternoon sun filtering through the high windows. I love the shelves of books; I love the displays of magazines, newspapers, videos, and new acquisitions. I love watching the students fully absorbed at the computers as they do research for an upcoming class assignment or catch up with friends via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites that I don’t know about yet. And I love talking to students as they approach my desk to check out a book or ask for reference assistance. For the most part, it is a calm and peaceful place to be this afternoon – that is, except for the reference shelf behind me.

What I don’t like today are two paper masks propped up on display behind me on the reserve shelf. One face is that of Hillary Clinton; the other is Donald Trump. They have been placed there to bring attention and awareness to the election for whoever happens to look in our direction. What I find most disturbing is that the eyes on the masks are cut out. When you look at them, you see right through them to the shelf behind. Their eyeless faces seem to follow me wherever I go. To me, they are downright creepy looking! And they convey a message to me that I find very distasteful – that of eyes that don’t see, and frozen faces that one can look straight through to the blank wall behind them. Is this a foreboding of what is to come? Or am I just being overly anxious about our future leader, whichever one it will be?

This election cycle is very distressing to me. I take my voting privilege very seriously. But I can’t wholeheartedly support either of our candidates for President. In fact, I can’t support either one at all! I have heard it said time and time again – we will be voting for the lesser of two evils. But which one is the lesser? I don’t know. I’ve done my homework learning about their platforms and promises (which I don’t hold my breath counting on them to keep if elected). I’ve heard and read about the mud-slinging and moral and ethical failures on the parts of each one, and it makes me nauseous.  I’ve considered not voting at all. My son insists that I vote. Abstaining is not acceptable in his eyes. I must make a decision and go into the voting booth next month to cast my ballot for someone. I know that he is right; I wish I had a clearer focus on who will receive my vote. I wish I had better choices than I have.

I am normally not one to write about political matters – I most definitely don’t like to discuss politics – and this will be the last, and only, thing that I write concerning this election. I look out at the students seated at the study carrels and computer stations, and wonder if they even think about this election and who their next President will be. I pause to consider if they realize what is at stake for the future of this country with the upcoming election. They are more concerned this afternoon with their essays for literature classes, completing an assignment for psychology class involving books from our reserve shelves, solving the latest calculus problem, struggling to understand college algebra, or texting on their phones. The two masks of Hillary and The Donald don’t seem to bother them at all.

Not like they bother me.