Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I am amazed at how many people comment that they are thinking of leaving Facebook because of the negativity there.  Now, I am not surprised that there are negative comments.  What surprises me is that someone would let this interfere with their enjoyment of Facebook!  It makes me wonder both what purpose Facebook serves for them and how they handle negativity in their lives.

Let me start by saying that I really enjoy Facebook for many reasons.  First, I find it a very easy way to stay connected with people.  I can share in their experiences, commiserate and support them when life is difficult, and celebrate when something exciting happens to them.  Second, I am a very visual person and enjoy seeing the pictures that others post.  I also like to take pictures and find Facebook a way to share them with others.  Third, I think that Facebook forces me to look at new and different viewpoints.  Obviously, everyone doesn't believe the same things that I do.  This is a very good thing.  It adds richness and texture to the world we live in.  Facebook is a great way to learn about these opposing views.  

These opposing views give me an opportunity to examine other beliefs and keeps me open to a diversity of ideas.  It helps me grow as a compassionate human being.  While I may not change my beliefs, I usually have a better understanding of an issue or point of view.  If I leave emotion out of it and refuse to become entrenched in defending my own perspective, I often find that I have an appreciation for a differing viewpoint even though that hasn't been my personal experience.  These interchanges expand my thinking, open up my world, teach me to have empathy for people irregardless of circumstance, and help me respect the rights of others to have their own points of view. 

I have also learned that it is best to limit my interactions in a heated conversation where there are opposing views.  If I choose to comment, I make the decision to do so knowing that I may get some nasty responses-always from people I don't know.  I strongly believe that everyone has a right to express an opinion.  I've learned to do so only if I feel strongly that I need to share mine AND I'm prepared to deal with the negativity.  Otherwise, I read the dissenting comments so that I know what others believe, and then I move on!

We don't all agree on everything.  My friends display a diversity of beliefs regarding politics and religion-both topics that can become very emotional.  However, I read what they post so that I have opposing views which makes me reexamine my own beliefs.  I think this is a good thing.  I don't ever want to become so entrenched in an idea that I can't take it out of its box to see if it still fits.  As I have changed over the years, so have my ideas!

I am fortunate that my Facebook friends are people who tend to be very positive in their outlook.  There are times when someone might post something negative about their day, but this signals that they need someone to empathize in the moment.  I have also made a practice of only "friending" people I know or those who have been recommended by someone.  This has probably made my Facebook experience very positive.  I am also retired now so I don't have to protect my professional persona.  

I make a point of surrounding myself with positive people in my life.  It's a conscious choice!  I do the same with Facebook.  For anyone who is thinking of leaving Facebook due to negativity, look at the people who are your "friends".  Are these negative posts from people who just have opposing views that make you uncomfortable or are they truly bringing you down with their negativity?  If it's the latter, remove them as a "friend".  I can think of only twice when I have removed someone from my Facebook Friend list because they were too negative, but this action helped me maintain a positive experience.  I recommend using this option to make Facebook enjoyable for you.  
You can control the negativity by choosing your Facebook friends wisely.  So don't let the negativity win!  Stay on Facebook.  Keep posting and sharing: I'll be happy to share in your life.  Even more importantly, stay on Facebook so that you can keep learning about the wonderful lives around you with all of their differences and commonalities.  Look around for the positive voices, the posts that make you smile, and the videos that make you laugh.  They are there!

Have you found your joy today?