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Facebook is a cesspool


My wife, sons, employees and maybe some of you have heard me make this statement. To be sure, it is a place where some people sit behind a computer screen or smart phone and say mean and hateful things about someone or their ideas. Seems to me, that like alcohol can be described as courage in a can, Facebook and its quasi-anonymity can provide some otherwise mild-mannered people a similar digital courage.

I have told reporters to use Facebook as a source, much like any other, and authenticate the information before including in a news story. Everyone can be an expert, and some think they are when posting information on Facebook.

I recently opened a Facebook page for myself (for many reasons) to see just what this “social media “experience is all about. I have learned the information Facebook provides is really not of much value to accurate reporting. A reporter can learn what’s on readers’ minds and possibly develop a comment into accurate information, but most cannot be confirmed for publication. I have learned that most of what is posted is hearsay and cannot be confirmed for publication. Thus, most time on Facebook, for other than communicating with friends or relatives, is usually unproductive.

However, given all that I have said, I did learn useful information from Facebook recently.

I learned that a childhood friend was in financial trouble and needed help. In the words of the 1967 Beatles song, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Due to quadruple by-pass surgery, he has not worked since September and his health expenses were taking their toll.

I watched as one junior high and high school friend after another offer encouragement, some offered scripture and prayers. A couple of days later, our friend announced that he would not be able to get online until his finances improved. A few short days passed, I read a note that his Christmas nlessing (my words not his) was “With alittle help from his friends” he was able to get himself in better financial shape.

In addition to friends, Facebook has also helped me keep up with my family members. Living in Brookhaven, we can’t just pick up and run over to our niece’s home to help her welcome a new daughter into the world. I can send a “private message” and be among the first to see a picture of her new bundle of joy.

Nor can we wave good-bye to the daughter of another niece headed to Disney. I guess that generationally, that makes me a great-uncle!

I probably would not have known about that since they also live in another state. Facebook allowed me to see a photo of this happy child.

I also witness childhood friends with varying degrees of political thought. Many of them seem to love opposing President Barack Obama and his Affordable Health Care Act.

They also seem to dislike the President’s immigration proposals and oppose almost everything else he supports. This was not something we learned to do in social studies or government class. I guess we can blame social media.

I can also walk out of my office and see employees wasting company time on Facebook. This probably happens in most businesses and is a drain on productivity.

Some of the comments I read on Facebook remind me of a BBQ joint (they sold beer, so the moniker joint is attached) that some friends and I frequented during our college years. There always seemed to be the same two or three guys there, hanging out and drinking cold beer.

Knowing we were “college boys,” they always had some rude or vulgar comment to make about us. We would ignore them, order a BBQ and stew, and shoot pool.

I sometime believe that these same guys are writing some of the comments I read on Facebook. That is what I believe the developers had in mind when they inserted the X button. If you don’t like what you see you can X it out and keep the information that makes you think.

Oh well, at least if I was lucky, I won the game and my buddy had to buy my lunch!


Otis Raybon is the publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at otis.raybon@dailyleader.com or (601) 833-6961.