THE platform may be different, but users of social media, especially Facebook where access can be restricted to friends and acquaintances, should follow certain rules that apply to real, face-to-face friendships.
For one, Facebook isn’t an open discussion board where users with assumed identities and avatars are free to bash each other’s beliefs and points of view. It isn’t a venue for pissing contests and shouting matches either where one with the loudest voice (but not necessarily the soundest argument) wins.
To rephrase the late US President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal line, Facebook is a venue of friends, by friends and for friends. As such, discussions and exchanges of ideas are welcomed, but nasty arguments and the use of downright foul language are not.
Much like in real friendships, you try to avoid arguing with a friend in public. If you feel strongly against an idea, or if you feel offended or disturbed by a post or comment made by a friend, you could either send him a PM or use your wall to advance your argument.
You can also choose to completely ignore the irritating or offending post or comment. Oftentimes, people, no matter how seemingly flawed or ridiculous their arguments are, are just looking for validation.
Why give them the satisfaction by showing how irritated or affected you are? For all you know, these people are probably doing it on purpose in the hope of ensnaring someone in their web of tangled logic, half-truths and flat-out lies.
You don’t just barge in with guns blazing on someone else’s wall just because you disagree with him. That’s not to say that you can’t disagree with a friend on Facebook. Of course, you can. But, as they say, you can always choose to disagree without being disagreeable.
And that maxim also applies to other forms of social media. You either put up and shut up, or use your wall to advance your cause and/or demolish whatever it is you feel needs demolishing. May the best idea gain traction.
No matter how strongly you disagree with a friend’s status update, comment or link, you try as much as possible to suppress your fingers, er, feelings by posting something nasty. As friends, virtual or otherwise, you try to give each other allowances.
Should that friend exceed your quota of goodness, you could either hide his posts or unfriend him. In extreme cases, you could block him forever in your virtual life.
Just recently, I experienced something that was totally unexpected and unprecedented since I joined Facebook. I won’t bother to reveal the fellow’s identity, but not a few of my friends who read the exchanges called my attention to it.
It only goes to show that no matter how uninterested some of your friends pretend to be, a good number of them still read your posts and the ensuing comments they generated more than they would care to admit.
Anyway, the fellow was offended by a blog entry I wrote more than a year ago about Divine Lee and his real estate mogul-father Delfin Lee, president and CEO of the now-defunct Globe Asiatique.
When the entry came out, Delfin was already a fugitive from the law after the government formally charged him with syndicated estafa for allegedly orchestrating the use of public money to finance ghost housing projects in Pampanga.
I decided to repost a link to the entry on Facebook because Delfin was again very much in the news soon after he was finally caught by police.
I don’t know if the fellow bothered to read the entire entry. Because if you look carefully, it wasn’t even about Divine or Delfin, but Filipinos’ rather mute reaction and tepid sense of outrage against such supposed crimes perpetrated by high-flying characters.
As shown in the series of accompanying screen caps, the fellow went on defending Divine by saying that she had every right to show how fabulous she was because she had worked for every piece of Hermes and God knows what designer item she displayed and strutted in during her red-carpet days.
How he arrived at such a conclusion, the fellow didn’t say. I think I know how, but I’d rather keep it to myself. I would have understood his reaction had he immediately disclosed where he was coming from. He didn’t.
The sins of the parents, he went on, shouldn’t apply to their children. Well, yes, but not when you’re part of the same questionable company holding a lofty VP position for marketing. Whether you like it or not, people are bound to ask questions.
Instead of leaving it at that, the fellow went on to say that his friend and I were no different because I’m also fond of “toting” my “signature bags.”
Ha! Divine would have been insulted by the comparison. While I go about occasionally posting pictures of my sorry collection of Louis Vuittons on Facebook, his friend used to regularly attend high-profile society events carrying the latest it bags. Where’s the comparison?
Still, I bit my tongue and responded coolly: “It is a matter of sensitivity. My father is not involved in questionable real estate deals.”
I chose to do this for a number of reasons. I was trying to put some sense into the guy’s head while hoping against hope that we would still be able to salvage our “friendship.”
Instead of shfiting gears, his succeeding volley proved once and for all that the fellow was spoiling for an on-line fight: “We’re not talking about your father. We’re talking about hers. Keep in track.”
For some reason, I got the feeling that his anger towards me was personal. It was as if he was just waiting all along for the right time to pounce. Right there and then, I decided that there was no point in saving anything. Wala, zilch, nada, zero, kaput!
Shame, shame, shame!
Why would you preen before photographers after getting off your chauffeured Jaguar while your father was already involved in questionable deals concerning other people’s money? Granted you’re presumed innocent until proven otherwise, but where’s your sense of shame?
The fellow even took it against me for posting smileys after each of my earlier replies. Huh? He failed to sense that it was my way of saying “chill, we’re friends and this is my wall you’re encroaching on.” He found the gesture offensive, yet he was completely comfortable calling me “darling” every time he said a mouthful.
But the last straw came when he had the nerve to comment on another person’s views on the same thread. He even dropped the F word to no one in particular just to advance his case.
Not only was he illogical. He was rude, filled with hubris and sarcasm, and most likely harbored a grudge against me. He violated every existing rule on the civilized use of social media.
Excuse me, but I would have none of your brand of friendship. Maghanap ka ng kausap mo! Please don’t bother showing your face to me now and even in the next life.