A Farewell to Facebook?


This week, a reader wrote to me, asking:

I find people are increasingly posting what I feel are inappropriate comments and pictures. My kids are on Facebook and they do not post these kinds of things or act this way so I guess I just don't know how to handle adults and other young adults who do feel this is appropriate. I am to the point of just shutting down my Facebook. So my question is do I just ignore this behavior or do I post a notice that I have decided to shut down my Facebook or just shut it down without saying anything?

Here's what I suggested....

The decision to leave Facebook is a personal one, of course. I appreciate your frustration with inappropriate or simply annoying posts on social media. And certainly, the upside of bidding farewell to Facebook is no more swaths of time gobbled up scrolling through your news feed and the attendant serving of seemingly endless ad drivel. The unfortunate consequence of leaving Facebook, however, is a shutting down of a pipeline that also contains welcome or important news you might not hear of otherwise. For many of us--me included--Facebook is a lifeline to longtime friends and distant family members whom I don’t often--or in some cases, ever--get to see. So I recommend the following:

1) If there are particular offenders who are also good friends of yours, I’d have a private word with them, explaining in a gentle way that occasionally, you have found their posts to be a bit offensive, and you wonder whether others might be feeling the same way. Encourage them to consider carefully anything they post, knowing that once it is out in the ether, it is difficult--if not impossible--to expunge. If they ignore your advice, follow the second part of tip # 2, below.

2) If the offenders are only casual acquaintances, you might consider “hiding” their status updates. What’s nice about this option is that you don’t need to unfriend these individuals entirely; you will simply cease seeing their updates (offensive or otherwise). If you hover over the right downward arrow next to their post, a box will appear that will allow you to stop “following” this friend. Again, the “friendship” remains intact. (See photo.) Your contact will be none the wiser.

3) If the offenders are casual acquaintances and are being truly awful, the time has likely come to unfriend them entirely. No explanation needed. They are not worth your attention.