Sometimes I think I should close my Facebook account.
Most of the time I can just roll my eyes at the bad grammar and odd over-sharing on display, but lately more times than not, I log out upset over the most inappropriate, hateful status updates.
For the most part, I think social media users should follow the same guidelines as dinner party guests: when in mixed company, limit judgements on controversial topics. I'm just not someone who likes to tempt confrontation or offend others.
Likewise, though I work in politics, when off the clock, I'm not that interested in hearing other people's opinions on political issues - even if the thoughts are the same as mine, and especially if they are ill-informed or racist. I've hidden most of the "pundits" to whom I'm a "Friend", but when breaking news happens - and yes, I'm talking right now about the death of Osama bin Laden - and suddenly everyone thinks they are guests on Meet the Press many status updates become, at best, cliché and, at worst, mean. I'm so bothered by it that it puts me in a bad mood.
When I found out that bin Laden had been killed, I cried. Not a full on weep or anything, but I got emotional about it as I called friends to discuss it, to make sure they were watching the news. His death is a big deal. It's symbolic. It's historic. It's justice.
Still, so many people couldn't go five minutes - much less 24 hours - without politicizing it. I'm not talking about media talking heads; even Rush Limbaugh had the graciousness to credit President Obama for giving the go to the military to take out OBL. I'm talking about average Americans on Facebook and Twitter - and not just the people I follow. I've talked with other people about this and know it's not just limited to my accounts.
As part of experiencing the breaking news about OBL, I naturally logged on to Facebook. I confess I have a slight social media preoccupation, if not addiction. It's regrettable, but it's true.
While there were certainly people sharing their excitement that OBL was no longer walking this Earth, and their pride in our soliders, that was quickly over-shadowed by a lot of Bush versus Obama, republican versus democrat, Election 2012. It was nothing sadly, at this really remarkable moment for America, over which one would cue Lee Greenwood, if you know what I mean....
OBL's demise has been a decade in the making. No matter how you feel about the war or our government leaders, past or present, as an American, I think - at least publically - you should withhold everything but your thankgivings for a while and just be grateful.
Be grateful that the symbol of evil against our nation is gone, be grateful that the people who REALLY know the pain of September 11th - those who ran from a burning tower, or buried a victim they love or fought in a war - can take the peace they most deserve from this victory.
I write a blog, so of course I understand that social media creates a space where people can be part of a story – but the story on Twitter and Facebook in the minutes and hours after the OBL announcement, to me, was just sad. If someone wasn't making fun of news reporters who went on the air without make-up, then someone was worried capturing and killing OBL would give Obama a re-election boost.
What trivial concerns, I thought, in the wake of something so significant to not just our country, but the world.
Besides, would you publically mock a stay-at-home mom for not powdering her nose because caring for a child prevented some playdate primping? Parenting is her job's top priority, after all, just as reporting breaking news is for a journalist...sometimes even without a stop in the make-up chair.
I didn't vote for the President, but frankly, I'd rather have Obama running our country for four more years than Osama running al Qaeda for even another day.
Because we, fortunately, live in a free speech society, these comments and opinions will spew, whether on social media or in newspaper op-eds, one way or another. One day, probably, there will even be a time for them. Before the President even finishes his address to the nation, though? Too soon.
Why don't I, you must be thinking, just stop reading Facebook? Delete the account. No one makes me read those posts or stay "Friends" with the people writing them.
Some days, I do want to hit the cancel account button, but despite how frustrated it makes me, I can't keep myself from looking. In fact, I find myself checking back to the posts that bother me the most, just to see how other people are chiming in! Healthy, I know.
People who have bucked social media entirely claim it's the best thing ever - more time in one's day for productiviy, less frustration by human thought on unedited display. I'm nosey, though. I like seeing pictures of friends' vacations and their families. I like peaking in on the lives of people I know. When it's fun and kind and happy, I like the community. When it isn't though, like it has been this week, I want so much for the good sense to just close the book on it all.