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How To Be A Less Angry Person on Facebook

I have seen many posts recently, some from friends here in our congregation, expressing concern about the tone of posts on Facebook. I share this concern. Some of you have even said that you are stepping away from Facebook for a while. While this isn’t bad at all, especially if it means spending time IRL (in real life) with family and friends, or reading a book instead of watching your smart phone, it isn’t the only solution you have to the problem of an unpleasant experience on the world’s most popular social platform.

Much of what upsets us right now is political. This post will not take sides, and I will stipulate from the outset that partisans of all stripes have distributed harmful posts and information that is heavily biased or even untrue. My purpose here is to offer some guidance on how we as Christians can be on Facebook without making ourselves crazy and offending people that we disagree with but otherwise care about. Let’s be less angry people. It can be done!

Because I am in the marketing industry, I follow Facebook’s updates and algorithm changes closely. Here is what I have learned:

  1. My Facebook feed is driven by what I like, comment on, and share.
  2. My settings are critically important to what people can see about me.
  3. Many of the viral posts shared on Facebook are completely, utterly false.

It’s easy to forget that Facebook is part of what is known as social media. In other words, it’s just an online version of coffee in Butler Fellowship Hall. So here are some rules of engagement, if you will, to create a Facebook timeline that you actually want to see when you log in. I’ll cover the points above in detail.

  1. My Facebook feed is driven by what I like, comment on, and share.
  • In other words, I can control what I see. The average Facebook user has 338 friends and sees about 10% of the entries those friends post to the site. Facebook’s algorithm is designed to deliver the things that you like best on your timeline, because you won’t ever see them all. So if you like, share, or comment on a post, Facebook takes that as a sign that you are interested in more of the same. My Facebook feed is not much more than dog memes and recipe videos because I have carefully curated my feed to get rid of stuff that annoys or upsets or bores me, including political posts and people who put up pictures of their feet on some distant, exotic beach. That’s just me.

Here is how you curate your feed.

  • First, think before you like, comment, or share. This is called engagement in social media terms, and whatever you engage with, you’ll see more of. You may like your friends’ pictures of their kids, but you may not want to see several of them every day. Consider the post, and the person who posted it, before you engage. It’s possible to like something without hitting the button.
  • hide-postHide posts that others share that you don’t like. Your friend will never know, either. When you see a post, look in the upper right corner for a tiny down arrow. When you click it, it looks like the image you see on the right.
  • This is possibly my favorite Facebook feature. I can hide this post only, unfollow the person who shared it, or I can hide everything from the source that person is sharing. It takes time to do this, but by using this feature, you will gradually see that your Facebook timeline is a much more pleasant place.
  • As for commenting, this is another area where a moment’s pause and a deep breath will go a long way. You might tell someone you think they are an idiot on Facebook, because you are secure at home behind monitor and keyboard, but you would probably not say so to them directly during coffee hour in Fellowship Hall. If you wouldn’t say it to another person’s face, have it published as a quote by you in the local paper, or shout it from the middle of Market Street, don’t say it on Facebook. Just don’t.
  1. My settings are critically important to what people see about me.Settings
  • Get to know the Settings feature on Facebook. You may be surprised by what you find there, and how much you can control in regard to who sees your information and who tags you. And you should check it regularly, because when Facebook makes changes to its settings features, they often revert to a default setting, which is more public than otherwise. You can access the settings features in the upper right corner of your page.
  1. Many of the viral posts shared on Facebook are completely, utterly false. Don’t fall for it.
  • Political posts on Facebook have been subject to a lot of scrutiny lately, and rightly so. Here’s what you need to know about how these things are created and why.
  • Anyone can create a website and participate in a Google advertising network called AdSense. The site owner allows ads to be shown on their site, and when people click on their posts, they make money. A large number of developers, both in the US and abroad (but mostly abroad), have created sites for just this purpose. They don’t care about the topic, they don’t have a point of view; they just want the money. So when you click on one of these posts, some guy in Macedonia goes to the bank. It’s just that simple.
  • They create content that is designed to inflame emotions. See this interesting article from Psychology Today about how we are disposed to see the negative about those with whom we disagree. If you see something on Facebook that gets your blood boiling right away, stop: it has probably been written to do exactly that.
  • How do you know if it’s a fake post? Fact check before you share. Many of you know about snopes.com, which is excellent; also here is a list of the 10 best fact-checking sites. Check more than one site, too. This is a terrific article that outlines all of the steps you should take to review a post before you share it. And this is a recent video that shows the latest steps Facebook has taken to reduce the amount of fake news we all see, and how you can act.

We have ALL shared fake news. Things we agree with are irresistible, and I confess that I have done it, even while I know what I know about how this garbage ends up in my feed. But we can all do better, by being informed and trying every day.

We are called as Christians to love and be loving in all of our interactions. Being a less angry person is a choice. You can choose to see content on Facebook that makes you angry, or not.

Do you have questions or comments? Contact me at mmccready@trinitywoodlands.org.