Facebook. It can be a crazy little world out there. For the most part, I enjoy Facebook as a place where I can stay connected to people I love and enjoy, where I can meet new friends, and where I can have a little fun along the way. I have rules for my participation on Facebook. I steer clear of discussions surrounding politics and religion. There are times and places for discussing those topics, and my Facebook page is never that time or place.
I also don’t argue with people on my page or take things too personally. It is far too easy to misinterpret comments. If I question something, I take the conversation private. My wall is not a place for debate–unless it’s a funny debate or one that focuses on proper grammar. In either of those cases, I’m in. By the way, “it’s” is always it is. Really. Ask my high school English teacher.
Ok, so yesterday I got a phone call about a dog that someone didn’t want any longer. I have fielded calls for a local rescue group for a couple of decades now, so you’d think I would have heard it all, but I still get calls that shock and upset me. This was one of those calls. Basically, someone wanted to get rid of their dog because it just wasn’t convenient for them to care for him any longer.
After the call, I was pretty mad. I took that anger straight to Facebook and posted a fine little rant. I even labeled it as a rant so my friends would know what they were getting themselves drawn into. It’s (see…it is!) no small surprise that a good majority of my friends love animals. As I expected, my rant drew a number of immediate comments sharing my outrage.
People said my post made them angry…made them sad…made them feel terrible for the dog. Then one comment popped up that agreed I had written quite a rant. The poster asked what the purpose was…what were the readers supposed to draw from my post?
Good question. Admittedly, at first I was a bit put off by this comment. It’s my Facebook page and if I need to rant, well, I can rant. It’s a rare thing coming from me. I think I generally try to be a pretty positive person, so if I feel the need to vent, I should go for it. Right? Right? Well…maybe not.
After I mulled it over for a bit, I realized some very important things. First, the person who posted the question was not being rude or even, I believe, trying to challenge me. He was just asking a valid question. What did I want people to take away from this post? I hadn’t really made a point or used the situation to educate. I just shared pure anger.
In re-reading the comments that followed my rant, and there were a lot of them, I had only succeeded in making people feel sad…feel bad…feel upset. Well aren’t I just a little merry ray of sunshine? So why did I rant? Did I need to have my feelings validated? No. I was angry and I had every right to be. Sharing my anger did not make things better for the dog or for me. Sharing my anger just threw fuel on already bad feelings.
You know what? I’m sorry. I don’t want to be that person. I handled the phone call by educating the caller to the best of my ability. It really didn’t need to go any further than that. Ranting didn’t solve anything, it certainly didn’t make me feel better, and it caused my bad feelings to multiply.
You know that saying, “you learn something new every day?” Well, I think in my case it should read, “you have the ability to learn something new about yourself every day, you just have to be open to it.” What I finally figured out today was that the comment questioning my reason for ranting ticked me off not because it was rude or inappropriate. It irritated me because it made me think…and it made me see a really good point. Sometimes the truth is hard to face.
To the person who made that simple, yet thought-provoking comment…well, I don’t know that you’ll ever read this, but I hope that you do. I really want to say thank you. After just a bit of self-righteous pouting (such a pretty trait, really), I came away with a very good revelation and I am grateful to you. If I need to rant again someday—and I will, I am far from perfect after all—I’ll find a friend with a good ear and I will ask permission to talk through whatever frustration is weighing me down. I won’t just toss it out there like a big, soggy blanket to drag everyone else down.
Now, I’m going to get back to my favorite things about Facebook—connecting with people, sharing humor/sarcasm, posting gratuitous adorable photos of my animals, and sharing bizarre photos of some of the people I see at Wal-Mart. Ok, some of those things are probably not exactly on the moral high road, but did I mention I’m far from perfect? I’m working on me, though. I’m working on me.
I want to make it clear that I do believe Facebook has more value than just a place to laugh, be silly and post photos. For me, Facebook has also been a forum for some incredibly meaningful conversations, learning opportunities, and great connections. I belong to some groups that have inspired me to pick up creative pursuits that were long neglected. I have learned so much about so many topics through social media. Facebook and other forums are fun, yes, but also valuable tools when used properly. I wish I had let my anger over the phone call that inspired my rant subside before I posted about it. I wonder how much I might have learned if instead of posting about being mad, I had posted seeking input on the situation. Next time. See…I am working on me!