Has the world always been, largely, certifiably mad (as in insane) or is it just that Facebook has made us look that way?
I actually posted a nice note to my FB friends yesterday about how amazing a tool it is, by and large, to keep in touch with friends old and new.
Then, as if to smite me, we had a really bad crash in Redmond – and a few dozen of the folks who passed by and took photos of the pretty dramatic if not horrific (OK, the victims were gone by then) scene shared the photos, in public, within minutes, on our Facebook page – long before any family members were notified, much less identified to the public.
What were they thinking? Or not thinking?
I posted a fervent plea of “please don’t do this,” which at least sighting had over 500 likes. But while that’s something that can be appreciated and humbling, I’m not “like”-fishing – I’d rather not have something to prompt such a finger-wagging post, “liked” or not!
When folks have said over the years that our Website’s comments would be more civil if we required real names, not screen names, I automatically reply: “Have you seen what people post to Facebook with their real names attached?”
Then, in a 1-2 punch of “fun,” I post a rewrite of a news release on a Crook County crash of an ATV and SUV on a forest road that thankfully did not lead to any deaths, but involved two juveniles, so the sheriff’s office did not identify them, only the SUV driver.
Well, within an hour or less, that posting turned into what I call “trial by Facebook,” led by one of the ATV riders who made some serious allegations about the driver — who, deputies said, was not cited. (There were some, well, holes in the news release, which I have inquired in hopes of filling, but it seemed to be enough to get it out there.)
So again, I had to go in — if only over my extreme fear of litigation and related headaches — and remove dozens of back and forth comments over who what when where why that went way beyond what the sheriff’s office released.
Some consultants have told me/us, “don’t worry – it’s only Facebook.” Heck, there was a ruling last week that again absolved folks who oversee Facebook pages of some legal risk based on what folks say on them.
But we have Terms of Service for the comments on our Website – ones I get to make sometimes-tough judgment calls on 100s of times a week – and I really do try to hold to the same TOS on our Facebook page, when I can, however I can.
It feels at times like a lost, hopeless cause – that today, with everyone having the ability to say whatever they want, wherever they want, that “censorship gene” of civility, sensitivity, decorum, taste and all those old fuddy-duddy old-fashioned words that most of us used to abide by has just gone out the flippin’ window entirely – young or old, rich or poor, male or female, we just let it all fly, and if the folks reading it don’t like it, that’s their own tough luck!
It’s not just about fear of lawsuits – although there’s that. It’s a gnawing feeling that for the vast majority of us, we either engage in reckless word-tossing without fear or thought of consequences, or we silently endorse it by not objecting to it.
I’ve joked, sort of, before about wanting to create a “Nicebook,” where folks basically are told: Be civil, or be gone. Why this is necessary becomes more evident with each skirmish I find myself in, as I try to refereee the un-refereeable.
Am I making too much of this? Perhaps. But the old adage “think before you speak” seems to be going the way of the buggy whip and hoop skirt. And you don’t have to be a kumbaya Pollyanna to lament it, and fear where it’s all going to take us.
(Postscript: I am unhiding the photos of the crash on Facebook and using them on the story now, hours later, because police have released details and plan to use one of their own. Also, all the photos shared I’ve seen were after the car’s occupants were removed.
Like this one – by Edna Ibarra – note the officer in vest, the paint markings by the wheels; clearly some time had passed.)