Well, it’s finally over. The Iowa Presidential Caucuses came and went, and the politicians came and went. My favorite part of the week following caucuses was the realization that television commercials have returned to mostly positive images. No more ripping on the competition. Unfortunately, the positive message doesn’t seem to have reached the social media, and the one that affects me most is Facebook.
Maybe it is just me, but I’d swear Facebook content has become more and more negative. I’m not one to insist that Facebook was created as a medium for pictures of cute kittens and puppies. There are more than enough people holding that position, and they do a fine job of sharing saccharine pictures of their pets. Apparently it works for those people, and that’s fine, even if their dogs aren’t anywhere near as cute as mine.
But it does bother me that a whole different contingent seems to need an outlet for meanness and tackiness. As often as I hurry through the kitten pictures, I would much rather see those than put up with one more invitation to see “Twenty Inappropriate Family Photos.” Or, for that matter, “Ten Yearbook Wardrobe Malfunctions.” On the other hand, at least with those we have the option of not opening that content.
The most annoying, though, are those Facebook memes that come with a political, or religious, or racial message. Once you’ve spotted the thing, there’s just no way you can unsee that caricature of the Pope, or the President, or even some political wannabe. I thought, with the passing of the caucuses, things would improve. Not so.
Apparently Donald Trump is going to remain an irresistible target. Sarah Palin is not going to disappear from the face of the earth. Hillary Clinton has a collection of haters who live to continually tell us how horrible she is. Politicians are public figures, and lots of Facebookers feel they need an outlet for their anger. Those people have always been out there, but these days it takes no effort to spread their opinions. Inspect the Facebook feed, click on “share,” and the tackiness flows on.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about reasoned argument or discussion between consenting adults. Some of the most interesting Facebook posts consist of intelligent people explaining why they feel the way they do. They don’t mock other’s physical traits, personalities, or families. They stick to factual statements and include evidence to support those ideas. They remain civil, and they don’t engage in name calling. Would that these people were more common.
I’d like to suggest Mark Zuckerberg create some divisions in Facebook. Maybe the meme spreaders could be partitioned off and have their own little playroom. That, however, is not going to happen, and the answer is much simpler. With a few easy steps, you can clear up your own Facebook feed.
Just Change Your Facebook Settings
One of the best things about freedom of speech is the fact that no one is required to pay attention to the person practicing his first amendment rights. If one of your friends insists on sharing every tasteless meme that comes down the pike, and you just can’t take it anymore, you can always go to “NEWS FEED PREFERENCES” and “UNFOLLOW” anybody you choose. No hard feelings because they’ll never know you’re not looking. If you change your mind later, or just want to see if they’ve civilized themselves, it’s easy to “RECONNECT WITH PEOPLE YOU UNFOLLOWED.”
You can find both more and less radical defenses by clicking on the little arrow in the upper right hand corner of your friend’s post. It will offer you several choices, one of which is that you just don’t want to see that post. If you click on “HIDE POST,” you will also be offered a choice of seeing less from this person, hiding anything from the original source of the meme, or even “UNFRIENDING” the offender. None of these are detectable by that “friend.” The exact process will vary when you go from your smart phone to computer, but the differences are slight. It seems like all these processes change a little every month, but the changes are minor, and they’re never too hard to figure out.
Finally, if it’s a family member challenging your sanity, I recommend you suck it up and just keep scrolling on past the offensive material. Sometimes it can be worth a lot of pain to keep peace in the family.