Last night, a FB friend of mine informed us that he had just “un-friended” someone for posting gruesome photos from Libya in an attempt to convince people to agree with her political beliefs. I was feeling relief that I had not seen such a thing when a “friend” of mine did the same thing. I have to say it was upsetting, and, later that night, every time I tried to sleep, that image appeared before my eyes, and I felt miserable and sick.
Don’t get me wrong. I know brutal things happen in the world. And being a journalism major and library person, I am a firm believer in free speech. But I also believe I should be able to log on to Facebook and not being bombarded with awful sights that hope to shock me into believing a certain way. (Ironically, the next morning, that same photo was in the newspaper, and it turns out that my friend had posted it in a totally misleading context.)
The incident reminded me of a Buddhist precept that goes along with speaking (but fits social media as well). Before speaking, ask yourself the following:
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Is it kind for friends and family of those killed to see these picture with hate-filled rants attached?
I think the answer to that is obvious. So, this morning, although I did not “un-friend” the sender, I did hide any future posts.