Saturday, May 15, 2010

Character Witness

A few months ago at the urging of a family member, I got myself a page on the hot little social media website called Facebook. I had been looking for a way to involve some of the younger relatives in keeping in touch with us and this seemed a good way to connect with them. Many of the younger generation seem to really be into Facebook and such websites, so I surmised they might be more likely to communicate with me if I ventured into their world this way.

I’m still learning about the different features of Facebook, but I have mastered how to become Facebook “friends” with someone, how to read and send personal messages, and how to read postings of my “friends” on my News Feed. What I didn’t realize was just how much I would actually learn about my “friends” from their Facebook postings.

Some of the things people post on Facebook amaze me. Either I’m older than dirt (could be true), I grew up in a Victorian era (life was more genteel then), or I’m really out of touch with socially acceptable language and topics these days (very likely). Don’t people realize that when they post something on Facebook or any internet website, it’s there for everyone to see and will be from now on? The language I see in some postings makes me wonder where people’s heads are.

Some time ago I learned that TMI means “too much information.” TMI applies to a lot of things I’ve seen posted on Facebook.

For example, why would anyone need to know what’s happening in your sex life? TMI! That is very personal information that I don’t need to know about you. I would never even consider sharing with a good friend what is happening in my sex life, let alone putting it on the internet for the world to see. That is private business between my husband and me. No one else needs to hear about it.

For example, why would anyone need a picture of your child on the potty? TMI! The poor little one will be so embarrassed when someone pulls out that picture that is still floating around the internet years from now! Do people even think how their postings may embarrass their children in years to come?

I also wonder about the quality of their education when I see the way many of them spell. Perhaps the craze of texting messages on cell phones has also taken its toll on correct spelling of words. Whatever it is, it bothers this retired teacher to see misspelled words. I get the urge to post a correction right there after their comment, but I usually restrain myself (in case you're worried about being embarrassed by me).

Well, I may be bordering on being old enough to act senile, but good manners are still good manners whether it is on Facebook or in any other social setting. I’ve been trying to think of a way to tackle this topic and find a solution to such lapses of decorum. Here are some thoughts that popped into my head:

I wonder how the thirty-or-forty-something generation would respond if their parents starting using similar crude language as many of them have taken up? If you have adult children who have taken up crude language, why not give them a bit of their own medicine next time you are with them and see how they respond? This could be especially effective if they’ve never heard you use such language. They might pause and think about their own words.

How would this group react if their own children spouted off to them using the same crude language their parents use? Would they laugh about it or discipline the child? (I hope they would not laugh.) Would they be embarrassed if their children told intimate private details of their family life to their school classes? That thought conjures up some interesting pictures in one’s head, doesn’t it?

We all would be wise to remember that everything we say, do, and write is a witness to our own character. Being mindful of that, we must consciously think “What witness of myself do I present to my family, my friends, and my community?”

I hope you can feel proud of the witness you are giving to your character and that the character you display is a good example to others.

Follow by Email