Every week, I sit down in my little writer's chair, light a cigar that I've carefully selected from my humidor and then, for the next hour to an hour and a half, stare at a blank computer screen.
My goal is to start my column before I finish the cigar. But I knew from the beginning that, tonight, I was going to need a bigger cigar.
I could go on and on about the creative process. And on and on and on. But that's not the point of this story. This story is about Facebook and my love/hate relationship with it.
Why do I use Facebook if I hate it? It's not a hate/hate relationship. There are good things about it. When I figure out what they are, I'll let you know.
For me, Facebook is like pants. I don't mind wearing pants, but in a perfect world, I'd just as soon go without. I wear pants for you, and I'm pretty sure you're glad for that.
Tonight, I went to Facebook to look for inspiration. It's sorta like going to the city dump to look for dinner.
Looking for useful information on Facebook is like having to watch three seasons of The Jerry Springer Show before you can watch an episode of 60 Minutes followed by three hours of conspiracy theories.
There are statements made that have no basis in fact. Comments void of common sense. And a prevailing lack of civility. Jerry Springer would be proud, or maybe jealous.
There are fun things, too. Family photos, cute stories and trivia quizzes ranging from pop culture to personal histories. I like learning new things about my friends, like what their first car was, how many broken bones they've had and what their favorite movie is.
I've learned a lot of things I didn't want to know about some of them. Like how gullible they are, how racially insensitive they can be, how misinformed they are. And dumb, some of them.
That's a mean thing for me to say. Talk about a lack of civility. But how else can you say it? Some people are dumb. Doesn't mean I don't love them.
I'm especially irritated by the posts that suggest I'm one thing or another if I don't agree, click that I like it or share it on my page.
"Share if you love Jesus?" I'm pretty sure my salvation doesn't depend on a Facebook post.
Then there are ones that say, "Bet you won't post this." And I think, "Bet you're right."
There are posts that attack my faith, my patriotism, my livelihood. Seems to me that Facebook users do a lot more tearing down than they do building up.
Not you, of course. I'm sure your posts are fine.
I could de-friend people I don't agree with but I like to think that I have a broad range of tolerance for differences of opinion. There's another function, that I do use. It's called snooze. You can click on that and you won't see posts from that person for 30 days.
I've come to refer to it as the stupid button. When someone says something ridiculously stupid, I snooze 'em. They're not gone forever; if I blocked everyone who has a thought different from my own, I'd soon run out of friends.
I realize that I might irritate some people in the same way that they irritate me. But they don't irritate me everyday. Sometimes, you just need to take a break from negativity.
There was a time when I felt compelled to comment on every errant post. You know, do my part to right the wrongs. Make the world a better place, or at least a better place according to me. But it's futile. You can't reason something out of someone that wasn't reasoned into them.
It's late and my cigar has burned down to a stub. Guess I should start writing my column now. Aw, heck. I'll just use this.
© Copyright 2020 by David Porter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. There aren't as many people these days who argue on my page. I think I wore them out; I can't imagine that it's because they all started agreeing with me.