On Christmas morning I checked my family’s Facebook page expecting to see pictures of decorated trees or excited cousins opening gifts. Or maybe a picture of my mom and dad who hosted a Christmas day party at their home.
But that’s not what I found.
The only picture that had been posted on Christmas morning was a picture of my sister holding a large assault rifle in her home.
I thought the picture was odd, but figured maybe that’s what she wanted for Christmas. Only later did I find out the picture was several months old and posted as an obvious statement to the few (OK, just myself and Kim) who don’t believe the answer to violence against children should be met with even more weapons in our schools.
A few years back I wouldn’t have known the political views of most of my friends or family. Sure, my close friends would know where I stood on some issues, but Facebook has made it incredibly simple for everyone to share where they stand on any issue.
And sometimes it’s not pretty.
I’ve seen people I though I knew well express racist and sexist views. I’ve been told I’m not a “good Mormon” because I’m not a Republican. And last week I was told to stay in Seattle because my views on gun control don’t match up well with those who live in Utah. One benefit of having written a blog for so many years is that I’ve become accustomed to such criticism when I’ve written about my views that weren’t universally popular among my family or friends.
I’m certain that I’ve posted links to articles or expressed views that offended others as well. Although I’ve written about many of my beliefs here on this blog, Facebook makes it easy to jump into the middle of a discussion and voice a dissenting or unpopular opinion. Add in difficult to understand privacy settings and you have an environment that’s ripe for misunderstandings.
There’s not going back to how it was though. Most of the time I enjoy keeping in touch with friends that I’d otherwise not hear from if Facebook were not around. In fact, I have very little interaction on Facebook with my closest friends. Most of the people I follow and those who comment on my updates are former coworkers or distant acquaintances from high school or college. I text my closest friends.
Last night I sat at the dining table laughing with my two daughters, one of whom had convinced me it was a good idea to warm a can of chili at 11:30 pm. Neither of them have asked to join Facebook. I’m sure they will eventually, but I’m glad I have some time to think about it.
Before I went to bed last night, I took another look at the picture of my sister holding the assault rifle.
And then I uploaded a video of my daughter playing “What Child Is This” on the piano.