Social media has taken its place at the cultural table. And if it’s not seated at the head of the table, it’s at the right hand.
Because of the ubiquity of Facebook as a principal means of communication, and because of the relative newness of the medium, the rules of etiquette are in regular need of refinement. As we find our voices in this brave new world, I have a few thoughts about how we might perceive the medium in general, and who we don’t want to be in particular.
My Front Yard
When we lived in Detroit, there was a guy named Bernardo who must have had over one hundred plaster lawn ornaments—statues, columns, figurines. Not that my tastes are particularly refined when it comes to landscape architecture, but the whole thing struck me as rather garish. But it would never occur to me to walk into his yard, march up to his front door, and tell him that he’s an idiot for decorating his yard that way.
I take it as read that my Facebook wall is mine in the same way that my front yard is mine.1 I landscape it the way I want; and I tend to it as often or as little as I want. My tastes might very well not be your tastes.
I see the way other people care for their yards—some of them I appreciate, and others I don’t much care for. But I don’t go into other people’s yards and plant my own signs publicly telling the world how stupid I think this person is for making landscaping choices I wouldn’t make.
Good fences make good neighbors, and all that …
If you want to plant a sign in your own front yard telling the world how messed up my thought processes are when it comes to politics or religion or sports or lasagne making—then by all means, enjoy yourself. You will most likely have to deal with the public opprobrium for appearing to be a lout, at best, or a bully, at worst. But, as I say, it’s your yard.
You’re just not free to plant that sign in my yard.