An Open Apology to my Facebook Friends

I owe my friends a sincere apology. I’ve been a jerk on Facebook, and it’s time for me to come clean. It has taken me years to finally understand the ramifications of my previous glibness, but it stops today.

Like a lot of people, my first exposure to social media was a little site called MySpace during my mid-20s. It seemed ingenious at the time: A place where I can reconnect with old friends, discover new music, and also write overly-dramatized blogs? Sign me up!

Sadly, it wasn’t long before the millennials took to the Internet and commandeered MySpace with their glittery, headache-inducing wallpapers and “duck lips” profile pics. My generation wasn’t innocent, mind you. We had the black-and-white “artsy” photographs of things casting shadows, but nothing that quite reached the level of a pedophile take-out menu.

After recognizing that the time had come for us old farts to vacate MySpace, I made the jump over to a new site in 2008 called Facebook. My teenage niece described it as, “a boring version of MySpace for adults.” Perfect! I added a photo or two, plugged in a bio, and set up shop… my news feed free of duck lips.

I had reconnected with most of my old MySpace pals in no time. That’s when I discovered that my generation had its own version of “duck lips:” Pictures of kids, and food porn. In just a matter of days, my timeline had become inundated with pictures of little Billy using the potty for the first time, and shared photos of lunch orders from twenty different angles.

I was overwhelmed and confused. As is common practice in the United States, I reacted to this confusion by lashing out with sarcasm and mockery. Most of my jabs were above the belt, and I’d like to believe that my friends appreciated my sometimes quirky sense of humor, but over time the well began to dry up.

My news feed, once ripe with happy (sometimes embarrassing) updates, had transformed into a political battleground of polarizing topics. Suddenly, the outside world had invaded my safe place of escapism. Lines had been drawn in the sand and I had friends broadcasting opinions on both sides.

Me? I utilize humor when I’m uncomfortable. I try to find the lighter side of most situations, but there’s a time and a place to get serious. A time and a place to voice your passion and stick up for what you believe in. For me, that place is a blog: An optional piece of reading material for friends and strangers alike to decide whether or not my words are worth their time. For others, that place is Facebook, and that’s when friendships can begin to splinter.

I work in social media for a living, so I am well-accustomed to vitriol. I’ve witnessed far too many real friendships ended over the past two months because of the 2012 presidential election and gun control debates. Yes, I believe that our opinions are valid, but we should direct them to the ears of people that can instill change. Throwing them out into the social media universe may feel cathartic, but it’s also counter-productive, and if we’re being honest, a bit selfish.

So, here is my call to action: Bring back the photos of your kids. Bring back the photos of your food. Bring back the photos of your vacations and getaway trips. Bring back the overhead black-and-white self-portraits of you looking away while a butterfly dances in the background. Whatever, but let’s work together to bring some positive sentiment back into social media.

The world can be a dark and frightening place, but Facebook doesn’t have to be. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to use their Facebook pages. That’s not for me to decide. All I’m saying is that I, personally, am sorry for all the teasing and quipping that I ever did at your expense. I will never do it again.

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