2/17/2011

The Value of Social Networks

There are two camps when it comes to the value of social networks. Either sites like Facebook and Twitter are destroying our culture or they're the best thing since fire was invented.

I, personally, fall somewhere in the middle most of the time. However, there are times when I loathe it. Like when someone almost runs me off the road while they're trying to text about American Idol or when my poor college professor wife comes home from a rough day irritated because she gives the students ten different ways to access the same information but they can't bother to write it down or bring it to class. Instead, those students sit there the whole class and text their friends. I need to stop myself now on that topic because I could really go off on a soapbox about it. *sigh*

The good part, but also sometimes not a great part, about place like Facebook is the ability to be in touch with people all over the world, family you rarely see, and friends you'd lost touch with. Sometimes though, you remember why you don't still have those people as a constant presence in your life. Friends make crude or insensitive remarks. An issue or major event happens to you and they don't ackknowledge it. I've even had family members "unfriend" me. I've had former classmates "unfriend" me. One was someone I would have considered a best friend back in the day. These things can be painful and hurt your feelings, but the good part about that is that we learn if we, the human beings that we are, really matter to others.

Granted, I am a VERY opinionated and political person. I have my views, particularly when it comes to gay rights, that I'm passionate about and will fight over - verbally or otherwise. Some things are just worth fighting for and my right to be an equal in this world with others is one of those things.

So, when I spend a decent amount of time sharing information that matters to me, that affects MY LIFE and MY FAMILY, and it is essentially ignored by people I thought had a little more humanity and depth of character, it's frustrating and hurtful. The hurt doesn't last long because then I just get pissed off and type up a blog like this. For the last couple of weeks, since the events in Egypt unfolded, I calmed down my Facebook presence and tried to be more lighthearted. Then the events in WI and the Republican attacks on our freedoms kicked up this week, and I went on a tirade yesterday. Education is one of my soapbox areas. You want to get me going debate with me on education. I was a teacher, and now I work in higher education and trying to complete a doctorate in education. My wife is a college professor and working on her dissertation. Most people I know are in education in some way, and now I'm co-chair of the first GLSEN chapter in TN, so yeah, I get fired up when the topic turns to education.

With everything going on in the world and with all of the news I share, what do I see on my friend's status updates on Facebook? Some freakin' trees on Auburn University's campus have been poisoned and will likely die. OH! You would have thought someone had kicked their dog! Oh, the outrage. And someone on one of the friend's lists responded about having twisted priorities to do something like that. WTF?! Are you serious? They're pointing fingers about "twisted priorities" when a revolution took place to unseat a dictator and install democracy (btw, not a damn one of my conservative friends on FB even mentioned it!) and the Republican party (which these same friends voted into office...thank you, oh so fucking much!) is systematically tearing down unions, women's rights, child labor laws, and not to mention going after, you guessed it...the queers. Yet, a FUCKING TREE gets their attention.

SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE FUCK!?

Oh, and to top it all off, an old high school friend, after being an FB friend for probably over a year now and hearing me go on about equality rights for me and my family, decided yesterday to "like" an anti-gay marriage page on FB. Nice! She survived the last round of me deleting people off my friend's list because she hadn't directly been disrespectful before, but I don't think she'll fare too well this time.

See, that's the good thing about social networks. While sometimes it stings a little to know that people you thought were once decent people think you're a worthless piece of shit, at least their actions prove to you that they're not worth knowing. I know some people would say, "Yes, but shouldn't you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? At least you'll know what they're planning and how to counter." Honestly, there's no countering that. There's no countering hatred or fixing stupid. They're stuck on stupid and like being there. One day, the way this country is going, I'll probably see these people across a battle line before I could ever hope to reach their hearts. Some people aren't worth trying to save or teach or talk to. They've deemed I'm not worth listening to. Why should I give them the respect they can't extend me?

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