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I have some Facebook friends who seemed to have dropped off the face of the social media earth … until October 7, when they’ve come back to life to post anti-Israel vitriol. I could just unfriend them or ignore them, but the way they’re using their platforms, now, makes me just so angry. Is there any appropriate way to address this when these are people I actually know?
Pushing back on those posts
There is almost no good that can come from Facebook discussions on issues of real import. Whether friends popped up to post things just this month or have been posting things that aggravate you all along, if social media is making you feel bad, just step away.
Certainly, there are people (I believe we still call them trolls?) who post things solely to get a negative reaction. Other people are testing the waters to see who agrees with them. And others think they can change minds and make change by sharing information that feels important to them. Honestly, whether it’s about Israel or American politics or UFOs, if you don’t like what people are sharing, you don’t have to see it – block them, unfriend them, or stop spending time on Facebook where you’re going to encounter vitriol, untruths, and other annoyances.
If these are real friends, that is, people you care about having a relationship with that extends beyond the internet, send them a private message and tell them that their posts are hurtful to you, a real person whom they know. Depending on your temperament and theirs, maybe, maybe you want to try to present them with your perspective on what’s going on in Israel. Still, maybe you accept my first point about the overall futility of changing people’s minds online. If they care that they’re hurting you, maybe they’ll stop. Maybe they’ll unfriend you. Maybe hearing another perspective will provide an important opportunity to connect even if you’ll never agree.
If you’re up for it, post things of your own that reflect your beliefs and viewpoints. Use social media to push back against antisemitism and other hate speech whenever and wherever it creeps up. Make sure, no matter what, that you’re sharing factual and verified information rather than things that you hope are true or that you’re just resharing from random sources. Or, use Facebook to connect with neighborhood groups about street cleaning, with friends about book recommendations, or with any other closed Facebook group with moderated rules where you can see a more curated set of posts without encountering the set of things that you don’t want to see.
During times of crisis, people use – or don’t use – social media in all kinds of ways. Do what works for you, and try not to get taken in by other people doing their thing. It’s bad for you and, ultimately, it’s futile. I know this is a hard time. It’s hard in so many different ways. But your Facebook interactions aren’t going to change the world, but they might change your emotions tonight. Make the choices online that are best for your overall well-being, and ignore everything else.