Keeping social networks emotionally safe

I consider myself lucky to have friends from all over the world. In the United States, my friends range politically from libertarian to socialist. Whatever the divisive issue of the day might be, I have friends that fall on the opposite sides. Religiously, my friends are somewhat less diverse, tending to identify with Christianity, though a minority identify with other religions or as non-religious.

Generally, when it comes to social media, my list of friends are people who I have personal connections with, and who want to have an electronic connection with me that is somewhat faster than my blog. For the most part, these friends are polite to one another. I actually consider myself lucky that I generally go months between deleting a comment. Disagreements, with very few exceptions are civil. I think perhaps, this is because if my friends have one thing in common, its that they all disagree with me about something, and still wish to be friends. In order to be a friend with someone as opinionated as me, one has to tolerate a few differences of opinion.

Unfortunately, from time to time I do have to clean up something. Arguing about political and religious differences is one thing, however when things pass into personal attacks it is something else entirely. If someone is my friend, and it is my wall — I feel responsible for keeping my space safe, as best I can… though, facebook never is truly safe — because of this, I will share my personal criteria for removing posts. (Remember, my wall — my right to delete.)

My standards for facebook discussion is as follows:

  • I don’t mind arguing about ideas, however if the idea is an expressed desire to cause harm to one of my friends, or recommending violence such as rounding up an ethnic group, religious group, or political party and shooting them is not acceptable.
  • I don’t mind arguing about ideas, however the arguments should be about abstract ideas, as opposed to the value of an individual. Critiquing an essay that I share as missing an important point is fine. Insulting the author is not. (If you have personal comments about me — there are methods of contacting me privately. Please use those, I know there ways I can improve myself, but I hardly need my flaws shared with the world.)
  • If you are my friend, and you see me attacking a person, or a group, let me know privately. I am sorry and I will delete the thoughtless comment. I have actually censored myself for careless speech more often than I’ve censored others.

My blog is somewhat different than facebook, it is completely public, and completely mine. It is not a forum for friends to connect and discuss the issue of the day. Every comment is moderated, as most who comment are completely unknown to me. Often, I exchange an emails before allowing the comment, recognizing that the comment might not be for everybody, but an attempt to contact me. Generally, I will approve a comment if it clarifies something or points readers to additional resources or ideas.

Yes, I practice censorship, however I only censor what is said from my own platforms. There are numerous free blogging platforms. Facebook is equally free. My censorship does not abridge the rights of others to speak, but it protects mine, as I have no right to speak if I must consent to people drowning my voice every time I open my mouth.  More importantly it allows me to keep a little safe space for my friends.

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