Sometimes I really hate Facebook.
My last relationship was plagued by things that happened on Facebook, which sadly, I dismissed as female insecurity much more quickly than I should have.
I had been single for a really long time prior to this relationship, and had gotten quite used to flirting with friends on Facebook. It was never suggestive of sexual encounters, or anything like that. More along the lines of mentioning when someone looked good in their new profile picture, and only with people who I knew really well.
Then I entered a serious relationship, and it became a problem.
I used to think that status updates and Facebook comments didn’t matter. I believed that if I put my flirtations on Facebook for the entire world to see, then it was pretty obvious I wasn’t seriously hitting on someone. Why should my girlfriend get mad if I said someone was sexy on Facebook? It wasn’t like telling them to their face, or even in a text message. I wasn’t hiding it, so why was she offended?
Our typical day would go like this: I would post something on my wall that she found offensive, and then we would spend the rest of the day fighting about it. This started to snowball to the point that even if I simply ‘liked’ a post, she might get angry and be hurt. I didn’t want to hurt her, but when she would get upset over things I felt were ridiculous, I started to care less and less about her feelings concerning Facebook, and would sometimes even post things out of spite.
I didn’t get upset about the things she would post, although the things she was posting were never anything that could have been called flirtations, or would have given cause for suspicion. I didn’t have to get upset at the things she posted, because she never said anything disrespectful. She was just asking me to do the same, but I saw it as her trying to control me, to change who I was. Apparently my ego has no limits.
We started spending way more time talking about what was happening in the virtual world than in the real one.
Soon our online problems started to bleed into the real world (why wouldn’t they?), and she started to become suspicious of almost everything I did. Needless to say, the relationship deteriorated quickly after that, and we eventually ended things all together.
I hate it, and am still saddened by it.
I eventually started reading a book about the Buddha’s Eight Fold Path, and it made me think long and hard about my contributions to the destruction of our relationship. One of the steps along the Eight Fold Path is practicing Right Speech. I’ve never really worried much about this step, because I’ve always felt that I’m respectful and kind when I talk to people. But what about the things I wrote on Facebook? Do they fall under Right Speech?
I went back through my Facebook feed, trying to read some of the comments that had caused so much turmoil with fresh eyes.There were a lot more times than I would care to admit that she was right. There were a few times that she was kind of over the top, but I think that’s because she was so frustrated with my inability to see what she was trying to explain to me. She was at the point of trying anything, in hopes of making me understand.
I’ve come to realize that Right Speech may apply more to our written words than our spoken ones. I once read that about 80% of our understanding comes from non-verbal communication, such as body posture, tone, inflection, and facial expressions. If none of these elements are present in our written words, how much of what we post is being accurately understood?
We break things down even further by using shorthand that none of us really understand. Does ‘lol’ literally mean that you laughed out loud? I’ve recently noticed that I attach a smiley face to almost every message I send, in hopes that people won’t be pissed off at something they misinterpret.
People can easily become upset when reading other’s conversations secondhand, which often happened with my former girlfriend.
I once accidentally inserted a winking face instead of a smiley face into a message. This led to a two hour argument (winking is apparently much more suggestive than smiling). Other times, I’ve had auto-correct insert something completely different than what I intended to say.
To make things worse, these posts stay around much longer than we think. My ex would frequently scroll through my history, and then ask me about something I couldn’t even remember had happened. It was seldom fun, and almost every single time, I regretted posting the comment in the first place. It just wasn’t worth arguing over.
We must be mindful with our words. Do no harm with the things we say. This includes the things we post on social networks.
Poke and tweet with caution.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Chrissy Tustison / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: via Flickr