Dear Facebook Friends,
I should have written this years ago, but it didn't occur to me that I needed to: When you use Facebook to post imbecilic, foolish or hateful things, I don't believe it is my duty to ignore them, any more than if you stood upon a table at a Reunion of All My Friends and shouted them at the top of your lungs.
So Jered, when you blustered last year that Tiger Woods would never win another golf tournament again and I told you you were full of shit and you asked, "What's your problem?"—I have no problem. I was simply responding to your now demonstrably incorrect opinion with my own now demonstrably correct one.
And Amber, when I took issue with your post about how motorists ought to behave when they see signs for a lane-merge a mile down the road—I'll admit I was having a rather slow day at the office—why did you take umbrage at my contradicting you "especially on MY Facebook page"? You posted on YOUR page, but it came up on MY feed. Do you really think it's untoward of me to offer my polite disagreement? Or do you only want to hear from me when I "Like"?
And Al, when you posted that unbelievable vitriol about Muslim Americans, and I and a bunch of others pounced on your sorry ass, why did you tell us that a more proper reaction on our part would have been to silently dismiss you as an asshole and "move on"? No, the proper reaction was to remind you in front of all your other friends that you're a better guy than that. (Which is why, I hope, that you eventually took the post down. And thanks for that.)
Now, Friends: I may choose to ignore an errant post of yours, if I feel your ignorance is harmless, or if am having a busy day. Or if I feel that what you are posting is beneath contempt. But in that latter case I really ought to unfriend you—as you ought to do me if you don't ever want to hear a discouraging word.
But Facebook is an increasingly important form of community—important to me, important to you—and if we don't call each other out when one of us says something dumb on Facebook, then we'll have the same kind of bullshit community there that we have everywhere else.
We don't have a bullshit community everywhere else, you say?
Bullshit, I say.
Your Facebook Friend,