We struggle with the “Don’t Suck At Facebook” series on Social News Daily a little, and today’s topic is part of why — by and large, we have a strong position against being a Facebook hater, unfriending, or the practice of hate reads and adversarial interaction as a means of overall social media interaction.
Trolling is a long-hated social web practice, but not all trolling is even obvious to the perp. And Facebook has opened up a new world of hating, hate reads, and generally keeping certain relationships only to be hateful, critical, or otherwise nasty to others and adding to the net unhappiness across the social web.
That said, we all engage in a certain level of hate read … everyone has a little bit of interest in what their adversaries or groups with which they do not agree say amongst themselves. I myself admit to train wreck fascination with certain well-known misogynist enclaves, as a sort of anthropological exercise. Then I take it back to my Facebook wall, ideally for vigorous debate, one of my favorite hobbies.
Being challenged and having a heated discussion is super fun, for a lot of us. But there’s a place where this crosses over to a near masturbatory fervor to just hate someone or something, and Facebook “friendships” based on hate are something that can poison the social media landscape not only for yourself, but others.
As a “to the mattresses” debater myself (ask my colleague Dusten, who is as inexhaustible as me, how many hours we debated a certain healthcare law last happy hour), I’ve incurred a significant number of Facebook losses over strong opinions. Comes with the territory for us master debaters … it’s never personal, it’s just argument sparring, it’s super fun, and everyone learns and gets better at making points. Win, win, right?
Usually. But I’ve also noticed on Facebook that there’s a contingent of people who not only don’t like disagreement, they do tend to make it personal, and this leads to so much sadness, unfriending, and blockings. Which usually falls under the header of “those people aren’t worth being friends with,” but then, weirdly, they stick around. Just for the hate reading.
Yesterday, I spied a loss of one inveterate hate reader on my own list. Nearly immediately? A friend of the hate reader sent and retracted a friend request. It could be just a fluctuation, but this strange group seems to have a fixation on hate-reading on Facebook.
Flattering to a small degree, of course, and we all have probably experienced the Facebook frenemy. But it’s sad for them and sad for the social web, as it inevitably burns bridges across long-standing friend groups — a lot of my pals came over from the old message board days, and the number of no-fly zones because of a single group of acrimony fetishists has by and large killed the community’s ability to stay in touch, because many social media participants are fixated on the Grand Exit, the dramatic unfriend, and the continual recitation of “I blocked this person, so I can’t see them because my feels.”
To that end, unfriending is a pretty severe step, and one we strongly discourage. There are ways from blocking certain kinds of content, but unfriending a person is adversarial and basically mean. If you can avoid it, do. And if you find yourself threatening and announcing it a lot, you should probably at least implement a policy of discretion.
In recent months, I changed my policy from “like literally never” to “consistent open hostility.” And that’s a decent barometer, but unfriending a person is always likely to tank your real life relationship as well.
Don’t be that guy. The beauty of the social web is the ability to discuss, learn, teach, share, and expose ourselves to ideas that challenge our worldviews. Hate reading can be a tool for growth and change as well, but if you’re getting a boost from hurting or hating others, maybe take a conscious look at why a debate over any number of contentious issues is something that prompts you to cling so closely to a given conflict. Are you genuinely trying to get a point across, or are you fighting to be right?
Heated debates don’t mean you suck at Facebook — they’re often a great social media feature on their own. But being a storm cloud across the social web and continually seeking out personal conflict is a warning sign that maybe you do indeed suck at Facebook … and you should consider blogging or a LiveJournal to work out your frustration instead of using social platforms to mete out sanctimony and rage to others. Have you experienced a friend or contact who seems to stick around only to bicker with you?