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06 June 2016

Facebook Wall as Personal Property

It's no surprise that social media can be a contentious and even ugly place. I hold tightly to my own rule never to read the comment section. Here is a bit more along those lines.

My Facebook wall is my personal space. I get to decide what goes there. Just as my neighbor has no right to post a sign in my front lawn without my permission, my FB friends' have no rights to my wall. My friends are free to hide me from their feed, to de-friend me, or to post a response on their own walls. In a perfect world, I would love to allow open discussion in the comments to my wall posts, but as I am regularly reminded, we don't (yet) live in that world. Take one post for example. The information was from a peer-reviewed scholarly article recently published in the flagship journal of sociology. The conclusions came from the rigorous statistical analysis of one of the most trusted datasets in all of social science. I'm certain that some of my FB friends would have been inclined to comment on my post along the lines of "Brad, I disagree; I think that Democrats are as much to blame as Republicans," but the data in this case make it overwhelmingly clear that they are wrong. People like to argue as if everything is a matter of differing opinions when, in reality, some opinions are simply untenable. That said, I'm certain that there are plenty of things about that study that one could question, like whether the authors used the proper method or whether they included the right control variables, but from past experience, the people who are the most vociferous in their disagreement over such matters tend to be the people who are the least qualified to adjudicate the research. They reverse the logic: "I disagree with the conclusions, ergo the manner in which those conclusions were decided must be flawed." At a much more basic level, I don't have the time or emotional energy to expend on constantly engaging in arguments on social media that have no chance of actually swaying another's mind. It's much easier just to say, "Look at this. Food for thought. Now, be on your way."

Now, get off my lawn, you kids!

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