Facebook and Right Speech

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Sometimes I really hate Facebook. 

My last relationship was plagued by things that happened on Facebook, which sadly, I dismissed as female insecurity way faster than I should have. 

I had been single for a really long time prior, and had gotten quite used to flirting with friends on Facebook.  It was never anything like suggesting sexual encounters, or anything like that.  More like saying when someone looked good in their new profile picture, and only with people who I knew really well.  Then I entered a serious relationship, and it became a problem.

I used to think that status updates, and Facebook comments didn’t matter.  I believed that if I put my flirtations on Facebook for the entire world to see, then it’s pretty obvious I’m not seriously hitting on someone.  Why should my girlfriend get mad if I said someone is sexy on Facebook?  It’s not like I’m telling them to their face or even in text message.  I’m not hiding it, so why should she be offended?  Our typical day would go like this: I would post something on my wall that she found offensive and then we would spend the rest of the day fighting about it.  This started to snowball to the point where even if I were too simply ‘like’ a post, she could get angry and be hurt.  I didn’t want to hurt her, but when she would get upset over things I felt were ridiculous, I started to care less and less about her feelings concerning Facebook, and would sometimes even post things out of spite.

I didn’t get upset about the things she would post, although the things she was posting were never anything that could be called flirtations, or would give cause for suspicion.  I didn’t have to get upset at the things she posted, because she never once said anything disrespectful. She was just asking me to do the same, but I saw it as her trying to control me, and change who I am.  My ego has no limits.

            We started spending way more time talking about what was happening in the virtual world, than in the real one.

            Soon, our online problems started to bleed into the real world (why wouldn’t they?), and she started to suspect almost everything I was doing.  Needless to say, the relationship deteriorated quickly after that, and we eventually ended things all together.

            I hate it, and am saddened by it.

            Later, I started reading a book about the Buddha’s Eight Fold Path, and it made me think long and hard, about my contributions to the destruction of our relationship.  One of the steps along the Eight Fold Path is practicing Right Speech.  I never really worried much about this step, because I’ve always felt that I’m respectful and kind when I talk to people.  But what about the things I wrote on Facebook?  Do they fall under Right Speech?

            I went back through my Facebook feed trying to read some of the comments that had caused so much turmoil, with fresh eyes, and there were a lot more times than I would care to admit, when she was right.  There were a few times where she was kind of over the top, but I think that’s because she was so frustrated I couldn’t see what she was trying to explain to me, that she was trying anything in hopes of making me understand.

            I’ve come to realize that Right Speech might even apply more to our written words, than our spoken ones. I once read that about 80% of our understanding comes from non-verbal communication, such as body posture, tone and inflection, and facial expressions.  If none of these things are present for our written words, how much of what we post is being truly understood?  Then, we break things down even further by using this shorthand none of us really understand.  Does lol literally mean that you laughed out loud?  I’ve recently noticed that I attach a smiley face to almost every message I send in hopes people won’t be pissed off at something they misinterpreted.

            Often times people get upset when reading conversations between two other people when they’re not even a part of that conversation, as which often happened with my former girlfriend. One time I had a typo where I inserted a winking face instead of a smiley face that led to a two hour argument (winking is apparently much more suggestive than smiling).  Other times, I’ve had auto-correct insert something completely different than I intended to say.  To make this even worse, these post stay around much longer than we might think.  My ex would frequently scroll through my back history, and then ask me about something I couldn’t even remember had happened.  It was seldom fun, and almost every single time, I regretted posting the comment in the first place.  It just wasn’t worth arguing over. 

            Be mindful with your words.  Do no harm with the things we say.  This includes the things we post on social networks.  Poke and tweet with caution.

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