by Dave Markwell

While browsing the various mostly meaningless post updates on my Facebook “news” feed the other day, I raised my eyebrows a few times. It seems that as folks become more comfortable with this relatively new technology, they are, too, becoming more comfortable exposing parts of themselves that should maybe remain covered. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing pictures of my friends’ kids and some of the pictures of their dogs, if the dog is doing something cool. I like reading about their lives and the fun little tidbits of humanity that make me smile. I like the inspirational stories and the funny memes. I like much of my Facebook experience.

I don’t like all of it. I don’t like negative stuff. This judgment is subjective and the lens I pass my judgment with is scratched and dented and bent from my own experiences. Now that I have qualified any subsequent comments, I will say that I don’t friggin’ get it. I do not understand how people can share some of the things they share….so publicly. I am often awed by either how secure or stupid people are. From gun control to abortion to super-personal family issues, extreme view points and traumatic experiences are passed along with a click of the finger presumably without a thought to where it’s going. I don’t like extreme viewpoints. I don’t like extreme viewpoints, extremely. I understand this contradiction and don’t really care. It is because of this that I can be a little lenient when faced with an especially offensive post, even if I cannot comprehend not only why someone could think that way, but why they would want to share it.

Again, through my lens, I am very aware of the vast and varied eyeballs that will see my words and form an opinion of me based on them. It is important, to me, that I represent myself if not favorably, at least accurately. As I know many of the people I shake my head about, some pretty closely, I wonder where I missed some of these pieces of their personalities or character. I wonder who the hell some of these people are and why they would want the world to know about their dirty laundry or dirty soul. I suppose they just feel so strongly about things that I don’t feel so strongly about that they need to get it off their chests. With this in mind, I will try to be forgiving when I read things that make me want to do something else.

My Facebook experience makes me really glad that it was not around when I was younger. I have said some monumentally dumb things that I am very happy were delivered to a pretty limited audience. Young people are dumb. Teenagers are stupid. Their perspective on the world is so limited that the thoughts they think lack sense to a more experienced eye. As harsh as this judgment may sound, it is not without a certain reverence, and maybe some jealously, about being able to view the world with young eyes. I see words that I may have said at that age and am glad that I thought them then, but am glad I moved on…mostly…

The old adage, “It is better to remain silent and thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”, is a truth. It is a truth that I have come to understand, like most things I come to understand: the hard way. My hope is that the novelty of our “information” age will wear off and we can return to private stuff remaining private. I suspect that this lesson will be learned the hard way, too. My hope is that this technology can bring us closer, not divide us more. My wish is that we can share our different perspectives in ways that do not isolate us or change our friends’ minds about who we are. We are all united in our common humanity and the roots are too strong and deep to be compromised by a few crackpot comments. We have all said things we wish we had not. Now, our words will survive longer than we will. Here, it is important to remember that we are more than our words sometimes belie. This is a good thought for me to keep on hand….and please keep sharing the funny pictures…I always like a funny picture…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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