Facebook Needs More Buttons

NUANCE: sensibility to, awareness of, or ability to express delicate shadings (as of meaning, feeling, or value)

I started drafting this post in response to something one of my friends posted on facebook a few days ago.  Alas, this week has been more eventful than anticipated and has left little time for blogging.

Here’s the original post that got my blood simmering:

I realize that patriotism is not a value of progressives, but they used to at least pretend it was. I know I frequently have said that progressives should be more honest about their values, but this disgraceful behavior in Poland is making me rethink that. Perhaps progressives should continue to fake belief in some virtues, as a matter of civility.

The post contained a link to this piece expressing outrage over the media’s rude behavior during Romney’s visit to Poland’s tomb of the unknown soldier and contrasting it with the decorum reporters show in the Rose Garden.  The conclusion is that “…this isn’t about asking questions, this is about their hatred for the Republican candidate outweighing their common sense and manners …”

Were the reporters rude and inappropriate?  Yep.  Does this mean they are a bunch of ass kissing Obama lovers?  Nope.  Are there any rules of logic under which this behavior leads to the conclusion that progressives are unpatriotic?  Not that I know of (Disclaimer: I attended an in-state university).

Facebook is dangerous that way.  Broad, harsh, over-stated claims leave a reader few choices.  Clearly “like” was off the table for me.  My other choices were to ignore the comment or attempt to engage with a thoughtful comment that might elevate the discussion.  But, facebook isn’t great at facilitating discussions.  It’s more like individuals shouting in the wind – no flow, no back-and-forth, no requirement for listening.

Then, I woke up to this post from the same friend’s wife:

To all my friends on facebook. Please remember that about 30% of U.S. citizens are more conservative and about 30% are more liberal. When you’re posting political views, it’s one thing to positively state what you believe in. It’s another thing to insult or make fun of the people who have differing views by mocking their beliefs. Please just keep in mind that things that make you laugh or resonate with you emotionally might be deeply offensive to others with opposing viewpoints. I assume that if I am your “friend,” it’s because you respect me. If you promise to try not to insult me, I will promise the same. Plus, I won’t delete you for being mean.  Thank you.

Well said.

My kids are going to grow up surrounded by social media and the type of communication it facilitates.  I don’t want Son and Daughter to think the only choice they have  – and the only level of critical thinking required for complex issues – is to like or not to like.  Such thinking only exercises some brain muscles – namely those used for jumping to conclusions.  I want them to have a more diverse brain exercise regimen.  I want them to stretch, reach, dig, search, ponder, absorb.

And, I think I’ve found at least part of the solution.  More facebook buttons.  I haven’t worked out all the details, but I’m thinking one or more of the following buttons might be helpful additions to the “like” button:


Feel Your Pain

Leave Room for Nuance

Do you have any ideas for new buttons?


14 thoughts on “Facebook Needs More Buttons

  1. Your three button suggestions accurately reflect what I’ve been thinking for the past several weeks. Oftentimes, I’ll see something that comes off as more than a little sexist or bigoted, but, as you stated, Facebook isn’t a great place for discussion.

  2. I am afraid you missed the point of what I posted. The behavior of the journalists indicated that they are completely unaware that there was a reason to respect the venue where they were.

    As an educated (and nice) person, you realize that was rude. But as a progressive, you didn’t find it gut-wrenchingly disturbing. You don’t have an intuitive sense that this site is hallowed and the journalists’ behavior is desecration.

    Instead, you looked at the article to which the video was attached, and parsed the political interpretation of journalistic affinity as the relevant issue. I didn’t even notice the article.

    I ascribed the journalists’ behavior to their broad worldview, rather than to specific party advocacy. I understand you to believe it was just a matter of bad manners.

    As a simple matter of the history of political philosophical, patriotism is a conservative value (think rednecks and John Birch if you will) while universalism is a progressive value (think United Nations and Doctors without Borders if it pleases you). In neither case is the issue absolute, but it is a significant difference, easily demonstrated as a distinction:


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism vs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatism


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatism_in_the_United_States vs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism_in_the_United_States

    By the way, I think your blog is delightful.

    Some time ago I adjusted my Facebook settings so as to not be distrurbed by your political comments there for which, as you note, there are no appropriate buttons.

    1. My “click” from your comments about progressives not being patriotic led to the article I read and referenced. After your response, I clicked a few more links and found the video you referenced. I was, indeed, responding to the article’s assertions of the journalists’ behavior being the result of their political leanings.

      But, I humbly request a do-over with my word choice. The journalists’ behavior was rude but that word choice implies that they are mostly guilty of a manners breach rather than capturing the despicable nature of their behavior at a hallowed site. I agree that their behavior was more than a breach of manners. Your description is much more appropriate. But, I disagree that the behavior is typical of an entire category of people.

      The bigger point I was trying to make is that facebook is a poor venue for comments like “patriotism is not a value of progressives” precisely because there isn’t room for real discussion and engagement. No word choice do-overs or exploration of nuance and exceptions.

      Please tell me more about the “do not disturb me” facebook setting. If someone makes a live version of that for holiday gatherings and family reunions I would be one happy lady!

      1. I agree with your assessment regarding facebook, if you have a varied group of friends.

        All it takes is one friend who posts an item regarding a political or religious or social item with which you agree, and you comment positively, and Bob’s your uncle!

        On the other hand, if you limit your circle to people who agree with you about everything but sports and arts and crafts, you won’t have a problem (except for those crazy garden gnome collectors).

        To tailor what you see, go to your friend list and hover over a name of a person you hear too much from. You should see a variety of things including a “Friend” button with a checkmark. Click the “Friend” button, and get a drop down list. Pick “Settings” and you find a list you can fine tune, so that you can still see Births and Weddings, but not each stray, “Well, I always knew they were h8trs” comment on a friend of a friends post about people who don’t like garden gnomes.

  3. I have been struggling with the hate showing up on Facebook lately. I am working on a post, but it’s not ready yet. I would love to leave social media, but your point about our children is true. I need to learn these lessons to help guide my plugged kids.

    1. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. Generally, I believe social media is more helpful than harmful. But, it has limitations.

      I put significant limits on my “friends” (http://wp.me/s224EV-friend) and I do my best to use social media for things it is good at: rallying friends for a night out, sharing pics of kids, updating people on our latest adventures, and links to blog posts.

      This particular political post (and so many I see circulating around this time of year) simply highlighted for me the shortcomings of facebook for certain topics.

      As you can see from Chad’s comment, my friend is an intelligent and thoughtful man with considered opinions. He has been a significant positive influence in my life – blessing me with lessons about appropriate skirt lengths (http://wp.me/s224EV-fatherly) and demonstrating healthy married-people affection (http://wp.me/s224EV-kiss) among other things not featured on this blog.

      I am aware of our political differences and have enjoyed in-person disagreements and discussions. But reading a sentence on facebook that may have proved the beginning of an interesting back-and-forth in my living room just had a totally different feel. It seemed harsher. More unfair. Limiting.

      I guess my call is for more awareness of the types of things that work well in a “like” or “don’t like” social media setting and the types of things that are best left to settings with room for reasonable people to disagree and discuss.

  4. I’m with Courtney. The hate and division is too much and yet, I go back to see more of the train-wreck. Something about keeping your enemies close reminds me to see what my “friends” with opposing viewpoints are spouting about. Sometimes I’d like to leave social media, as I’ve done in the past and sometimes I want to un-friend everyone but family. But instead I muddle along, dreaming up something incredibly brilliant to say and never say it.

    One valuable lesson we are learning: the traditional media really isn’t “reporting” anymore. It’s all filtered through someone’s rose-or-other colored glasses.

    And I’d really like a “seriously?” button.

    1. I love hearing opposing viewpoints when there is room to question and banter. But, generally I find that facebook functions better for announcements. “I’m drinking alone, please join me” or “I had a baby” or “I blogged…again.” Dueling announcements and assertions aren’t conversation and I don’t want my children to confuse the two. I want them to endure the joys, trials, and nuance of two-sided discussions that make them squirm. By the way, I would make good use of a “seriously?” button. You need to pitch that to the powers that be. 🙂

      1. But what “seriously” actually means is, “you’re assumptions about things are so different from mine that I don’t understand what you could mean by that.” And if one is interested in living in community or communion with someone, one should really want to understand.

        So I think what is being said is that Facebook is really for superficial communications, or for communications only with those with whom we share virtually all assumptions.

        As an example, a Christian friend of mine, in the last week, “Liked” Chick-fil-a. When I “Liked” her like, a gay relative of mine unfriended me.

        No, wait, that wasn’t what happened. A gay friend of mine posted Jackson’s Pierce’s anti-Biblical-marriage video, and a non-Christian friend of mine “liked” that, so I unfriended him.

        No, wait, it was when a Christian friend of mine commented positively on one of her liberal friends posting of a video of Romney talking about how Olympic athletes had a lot of support, so I posted a response on her wall and then she unfriended me.

        No, wait, it wasn’t any of those.

        At any rate, for Lent, I usually give up posting about politics, anywhere on the net. Perhaps I should do so for the Ramadan fast as well.

      2. SUPERFICIAL: concerned only with the obvious or apparent; shallow

        I would choose superficial facebook communication over limiting my interactions to only those with whom I share virtually all assumptions.

        I’ll compare it to the standard I use for sermons. It is a pastor’s duty to preach “obvious or apparent” biblical truths. However, I see it as a misuse of the authority of the pulpit when sermons assert as absolute things one which reasonable people may disagree. To me, those topics – which should be honored with discussion, time for sharing viewpoints and convictions, the give and take of dialogue, respectful listening, responsible research, and the option to agree to disagree without vilifying others – belong in a setting that is less one-sided such as a small group Bible study.

        I have concluded that facebook functions more like a pulpit than a small group.

        I have also concluded that I prefer talking to you in person over dessert and raspberry beers to typing over a laptop. The absence of tone of voice and body language makes me uncomfortable. I hope you are receiving the dose of love and respect with which my musings are shared.

  5. Facebook really is a scary place – what happens more often than I wish is that I lose respect for my family and friends there, and that’s not what I wanted when I signed up.

    I would wear out “Source?” and “Please substantiate” buttons, and I love the “Seriously?” suggestion. I guess “You must be daft”, “Please return to your cave”, and “Oh, just shut up” wouldn’t be helpful in the grand scheme.

    I think you wrote a top-notch post here, as I often do.

    1. I love the idea of a “Source?” or “Please substantiate” button!

      As you can see from Chad’s comments, he is more than willing to cite sources for his conclusions – and it does indeed elevate the conversation and provided interesting fodder for discussion.

      But, I have a few other fb offenders for whom those extra buttons would be incredibly handy. But, you’re right…your other buttons seem more harmful than helpful.

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