Navigating Facebook After Ferguson Can Be Tricky, But Here's How To Deal With It Responsibly
Facebook is a place where we can tell our friends how we feel without calling them all up, and we can do it at length. That's all fine and dandy most of the time, but when it comes to painful, polarizing topics like Ferguson, this can make Facebook an intimidating and unpleasant experience. Think about your right-wing uncle's comments on your status, or posts from that guy from high school who uses Conservapedia for his information... Chances are, if you're anything like me, a few of your friends are using Facebook to share their less-than-palatable opinions on the subject.
Ferguson is a deeply personal topic, and it can be painful and personally affecting to read other people's opinions about charges being dropped against Darren Wilson — whether you completely agree with that person, or vehemently disagree, or are somewhere in between. It's important to remember that everybody is entitled to an opinion, and your Facebook friends can express those opinions however they want. You can't prevent that in any way, nor should you want to, because freedom. So, there's that. But you can control what you see on Facebook and how you react to it.
Use and look for good sourcing
If you're actively looking for information about Ferguson or any other event, one of the easiest ways to weed out statuses you should not pay attention to are ones with obscure or nonexistent sourcing. This extends to when you decide to post about a topic. To avoid unwanted arguments about credibility or lack thereof, you can try to find a good source to back up whatever you're sharing. You're not under any obligation to, but it might spare you a headache.
Curb your Facebook time
Making sure to take breaks and unplug is important all the time, but especially during events like these. Take some time to walk outside or do other enjoyable things (for me, it's singing to my corgi). At the very worst, it's a temporary distraction, and at best, it will give you some perspective.
Don't be afraid to temporarily (or permanently) unfriend people
If somebody's statuses are annoying you, or they're targeting your opinions to argue their side of the issue, don't be afraid to unfriend them! Your Facebook news feed is yours, and you have a right to tailor it to what makes you comfortable. You can re-friend them after some time has passed if you really want to, and if they're a friend worth having, they'll understand why you did it in the first place. You can also opt to see less from them if you don't want to do something that drastic.
Know when to walk away
As a veteran of more than one Facebook fight, I know how difficult it is to avoid lashing out when someone posts something that gets on your nerves. If you find yourself in an argument, remember it's perfectly okay to unfollow the status and walk alway. You are under no obligation to fight with anyone about anything, no matter how many push notifications you get from them.
Images: Getty (3), Suzanne Samin (2), Tumblr, Andrew St. Clair/Flickr