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GARY SMITH: Those Facebook foibles

Social media sites have a long, long memory by Gary Smith | June 11, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

I have a problem with Facebook and the problem is people.

Actually, I could say that about a lot of things. But, since the topic is Facebook, let's stick there for a bit. We can talk about driving and line-cutting and acting confused as a method of getting your way later. And certainly will.

It seems it's been well established that, in at least some cases – say, elections, general misinformation about pandemics, stuff like that -- Facebook can be something of a menace. But since this is a widely known and accepted situation, using the social media platform is sort of like swimming in shark-infested waters. Nothing may go wrong, but if it does, you can't say you weren't warned.

No, at this point, to borrow a cliché, my issue with Facebook is not so much with the arrow as it is with the archer. The tool is what it is. The problem is us.

As with most things, I need to qualify this a bit. Despite statistics that seem to indicate there are more people on Facebook than there are people (a little challenge with the data that might bear scrutiny, but perhaps another topic for another time), there are some of us out here who don't spend a lot of time on the site. I could get all high-horsey about social media usage at this point and claim "I have a life," or some such nonsense. However, the reality is there are only so many waking hours in a day, ESPN and the Golf Channel have apps and spending time any place else would cut into the time I get to spend there.

I mean, those Browns' draft picks and the Cardinals' pitching rotation aren't going to analyze or cuss themselves, are they? Wait, I think ESPN does the analyzing part ...

My challenge comes on those occasions when a sport actually isn't being played (so, basically about 27 seconds a month) and I get on Facebook. And I realize people are violating the unwritten rule that most of us are just there for pictures of kids/grandkids, dogs (and, on rare occasions, cats), envy-worthy vacation spots and bird pics. That's pictures of birds, not people giving ... never mind. You got it.

What we don't really value as much as many Facebook users apparently think we do are their opinions. Not all of them. Some of them. The ones that contend, say, the earth is flat and that the magic trick where you hold a spoon on the tip of your nose is the result of your body being magnetized by vaccines.

I tend to lean a little heavily on analogies, but here are a couple to, I hope, illustrate my point. Facebook is sort of like Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody's there, delicious food is being served, it's all great and then your crazy, drunken uncle starts with the conspiracy theories. Suddenly, the room is really quiet and everyone is picking at their helping of the green bean casserole.

Now, you could do what I do in these situations. You can try to change the subject. You can start yelling about the football game that is invariably on TV. Or you can be really mature and act like you're choking. (To my family: Yep, all those years you thought I didn't know to chew my food 32 times, huh?)

But what none of us can do is unhear the crazy, drunken uncle. From that point on, whatever else he is or tries to be, he'll always be the guy who is pretty sure 5G is a plot to control our minds.

So, go ahead. Post away. Link to that sketchy "news" source that doesn't appear to believe in fluoridated drinking water or in the power of the Worldwide Web to allow us to research and debunk things in seconds.

But just remember (another analogy coming), in some cases, posts are like mullets. They sure seemed like a great idea at the time or in "Braveheart." But now, with the benefit of years and experience ... yeah, maybe they're better left to Mel Gibson or Joe Dirt.

You can either be the person who shows the world pictures of your dog in sunglasses or the social media equivalent of the drunken uncle. And social media posts never die.

Before we decide I'm completely against Facebook, thanks to the posts from a friend of mine, I know (a) what a grosbeak is and what it looks like and (b) that they show up in Arkansas in May. And that's what I'm on Facebook for.


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