I realize this is a subject about which many people have written a great deal, but I haven't seen much on it recently, as there seem to be some established conventions. But I've been thinking quite a bit recently about the social conventions of Facebook (mostly) and Twitter (a bit), and in particular about some of the grey areas of virtual friendship.
I know that much of the image I project in my Facebook is pretty consistent. I share my clients' news; am clearly a fan of the Liberty, Knicks and Rangers; play the drums and like prog rock and The Revivalists (not just because my cousin Zack plays guitar for them...); and frequent the a Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I'm married, and once in a while a photo of my kids shows up, but not often.
Then it gets tricky. I know I discussed civility before the election, and the fact that while I may have strong and passionate feelings about political and social issues, I try to leave them off my social media much of the time. Part of this is because I use social media for business and don't want to alienate current and possible future associates. I know I have friends and associates who have very different views from my own, and would rather be more circumspect than controversial. This is my decision, and obviously it's different from many other folks' way of thinking. And it doesn't take much, just by seeing whom I've chosen to follow or share, or some of the decisions I've made as to whom I've Liked myself, where I stand on most issues. I'm just not terribly vocal (with a few pretty clear exceptions).
So that leads me to the quandary I've been in recently. Ok, so while I want my own feed to be apolitical, others of my friends--on both sides of the aisle--have chosen to make their feeds bully pulpits. Most of the time I just let it go, but recently I've been seeing some pretty hateful stuff creeping in. My instinct is to unfriend, but I find that hard to do--some of the folks are professional friends, some are longtime real-life friends, some even relatives (and I'm not going to be more specific on this--I'm still not trying to alienate folks!). Some have great material mixed in with the stuff I find distasteful. Some would know if i unfriended them and would be incredibly offended--and i'd care about that. Tough stuff. How do other folks deal with this?
Ultimately, this is a new, interesting offshoot of the incredible, endlessly interesting world we're now inhabiting. Social mores have both broken down and become even more rigid. I think of the rules in Jane Austen or Anne Perry's early Pitt novels, or of Downton Abbey and other stories of manners and etiquette. How would Mr. Darcy deal with Elizabeth's Facebook feed?
In the meantime, I'll keep posting about pub dates and the WNBA. Happily.