This writing comes with a warning that I might step on some toes.

There are many reasons to love Facebook. I didn’t always love it, though. In fact, it’s surprising that my husband and I do Facebook at all, not being technologically savvy or inclined to jump into the “unknowns” of the Internet willingly. I’ll blame/credit our children for this one. They showed up at our house several years ago and staged an intervention of sorts, determined to set up a joint Facebook account for us. After setting up our page they began scrolling through names, many we knew but most we did not. My husband and I would pause and give considerable thought to each name.

That was hours of our lives that we’ll never get back.

The kids became a bit frustrated I’m sure, but somehow got us hooked up with many “friends.” After that we were on our own with it, save for the times we consulted our young grandchildren for help. They are growing up with technology and none of it frightens them.

We enjoy seeing family photos – cute babies and happy kids, holiday group shots, selfies, and even pet antics on videos. It’s nice to know when someone has a birthday, needs prayer or seeks advice. How interesting when people share craft ideas and recipes. Sometimes there are witty remarks and humorous memes … who doesn’t love those? A good chuckle never hurts. We also like reading about recent successes and accomplishments, especially when it’s people we rarely get to see.

Some people even post photos of what they are having for dinner in restaurants both near and far. However, it’s not really fun to see what other people enjoy while we sit here with plates of leftovers, which frankly, weren’t so great the first go-round.

Social media is a good way for local businesses to show us what they have to offer. It’s great for advertising community news and upcoming events. I think those things are what Facebook is supposed to be.

Unfortunately, Facebook has become many things it’s not supposed to be. For instance, it shouldn’t be used as a tool to trash neighbors or local businesses. I understand that if you don’t like something you see on Facebook, you’re supposed to scroll on and pass it by, keeping comments to yourself. I usually had no problem doing just that although it was difficult at times. But, after seeing daily posts from one person ranting about others I finally caved and made comment. I’d seen this person hate on just about everyone possible: her grandchildren’s teachers, the school board, county commissioners and officials in other varied forms of local and state government. Her list included TV celebrities, anyone that did not support “her” president, and even some members of her own family. Really? Hating on family?

One day her wordy and hateful rant was against another well-known member of the community, and more specifically, that person’s business. She wanted her friends to boycott the business because of political differences. Amazingly, there were quite a few people quite willing to do that and made sure they posted comments to please her. There were so many things wrong with that, I didn’t even know where to begin. I decided to make a simple comment.

Basically, my message was that she shouldn’t post harmful things about a member of her own community.

My opinion was not appreciated. She then had a new person to hate and posted a novel-length political rant full of expletives even though my comment had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with respecting others. Then she did me a favor by unfriending me. I hope her innocent grandchildren will never see some of the things she’s shared on Facebook.

It’s disturbing to see that some people use Facebook to copy and share violent and hateful political memes one after the other. And then they write things like, “If you don’t agree with me unfriend me right now. I want nothing to do with you.” I know these people and before Facebook, thought they were friendly and rational. I see some of them in church or out in the community and so badly want to ask them, “Did you really post that filthy, hateful meme on Facebook, or did the devil himself hack your account and do it?”

I get that people will disagree on almost any topic under the sun and I think everyone should speak up if they see things going on that are wrong. But, there’s a right way and a wrong way to speak up. I would think that if someone wanted to promote a favorite president or political candidate, they would change more minds by making intelligent statements and by being rational and decent. What kind of message are we sending our youth when adults can’t share an opinion without promoting violence and using filthy, hateful language?

There are other problems; I was recently scammed on Facebook. There was a post listing an address and asking that holiday cards be sent to patients at a Veteran’s hospital. Thinking it was a nice thing to be involved in I shared the post and immediately readied cards to mail out. Imagine my dismay when all cards were returned with a message that the address didn’t exist. I won’t be so quick to act on or share anything else in the future. Lesson learned.

Is Facebook a blessing or a curse? I know people that have closed their accounts and have no regrets for doing so. Staying on and unfriending certain people will stop some undesired negativity, but won’t completely eliminate it. I’ve heard that Facebook is now an “older generation” thing. The younger folks are more into Instagram, Twitter and an ever-growing list of popular online groups. Even if that’s true, isn’t it time for our generation to clean things up and set a better example for all?

Carol Hartsoe is an author who lives in Bear Creek.

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