Saturday, March 27, 2010

BloG #42: Of Debates and Friends and Tumbleweeds...

The exercise continues...

Yes, my textual manuscript is slowly inching forward here, once again starting out with nothing to say. The point of this particular writing is to see if it will actually evolve, as I write, into something that actually has a point or whether it just drifts like a tumbleweed being tossed about by a desert wind.


So, here we go....
Much debate has been taking place concerning the recent health care reform and I have to say, heels are being dug in quite deeply on both sides. I'm choosing to say very little beyond the occasional private comment to very close friends regarding this issue b/c frankly, it appears the social networking forums are becoming a rather polarizing medium to be so open with your opinions regarding such topics.

Considering the fact that most 'friends' that are listed as friends on these sites are casual friends at best, no matter which side of the debate you pick to express an opinion about, it appears that you can plan on offending at least 50 percent of your 'friend' base. By my own informal observation, this particular debate has shown friends to be getting quite nasty with each other. Sometimes, even going so far as to de-friend each other.

Social networking has changed quite substantially in the last year or two. Here's how I see it:

In the past, I belonged to 2 or 3 different musician networking forums. 'Friends' that I shared opinions with there were much more distant in that I did not know them on a face-to-face basis. If I did engage in debate on a polarizing issue with them, there was very little consequence based on the fact that we really didn't know each other beyond the textual info we read about each other online, along with whatever avatar they posted for an identifier.

NOW.... here we are engaging in similar banter, only it is with FRIENDS who know (or think they know) us! Suddenly, opinions of each other are formed or changed. Sides are taken. Decades old acquaintances and friendships are challenged by one short little comment you let slip. I have been watching the discourse and have even been somewhat burned by it on fairly recent conversations myself. The question we all need to start asking ourselves is...

Is it really worth it?

The anonymity is gone. We're no longer confronting cyber friends here. Suddenly, our comments are being read by FRIENDS and colleagues of past, and FRIENDS and colleagues of present. Watching the debates on this current health-care issue, it seems many of these 'friends' are not so quick to dial it back, as it were. Passion is running amok. Hurtful things are being said. 'Friendships' are ending right before our eyes. And over what?

Is this all really worth the potential loss of friends?

Or, do we just march ahead and say what we feel, friends be damned?

I don't know the answer. But another observation I have gathered in past discussions is that text does not transmit vocal inflections and/or body language. The consequence that often arises is that an intended joke or light-hearted comment will often be mistaken by the intended receiver as less than funny or downright offensive. Add to that all the networked friends who are also reading these comments, many of whom may also choose to be offended and you suddenly have a slight problem on your hands. Or at least a fewer friend or two.

This is not even factoring in the potential employers and other key people in your life who may eventually choose to read things associated with you, including any opinions you may choose to share on a given subject, such as health care reform. Again, it all begs the question...

Is it really worth it?

That is a question only you can decide for yourself. And that answer may change for you as you progress through time. Suddenly, your friendships may begin to mean more to you. Or less. Suddenly, what you decide to put out for everyone to read may not seem as such a good idea as it once did. But by then, is it too late?

Just a thought.

In reference to my first thought expressed on this particular posting... there may have been a point, but again, who cares??

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