We love to find blame, don’t we? No matter what we do, no matter how bad we may mess up, it is always someone else’s fault.
I broke my ankle — the dog was in the way. I didn’t go to a better college — the high school teachers hated me.
So when Hillary Clinton — I promise this is not a political column — lost to Donald Trump in an upset nearly as big as the United States beating Russia in hockey, the excuses flowed, each one more ridiculous than the next.
But since its beginning, the excuse of the Russians influencing our elections was the most preposterous — and, amazingly, the one with more staying power than Watergate.
That Russian interference was driven, according to whatever talking heads you might want to believe, through Facebook shenanigans.
Like it or not — and more and more of us are not — Facebook is here and has inserted its tentacles deep into our psyches. Facebook has ended friendships, broken up marriages, brought out the true evil spirit that exists in us. A friend said to me years ago that Facebook was the Devil — and each day that passes, I believe him more.
But Facebook is a way for a grandmother living a long distance from her grandchildren to follow them. It gives proud mothers and fathers a chance to tell, without phone calls to 100 people, that Sally Sue got into Harvard. It gives a guy like me the chance to relive that day one year ago when I said, “I do” to the love of my life — and then share it with people who, without Facebook, likely would have long forgotten.
There are two distinct sides of Facebook — an all social media — that harkens back to the great speech attributed to Noah S. “Soggy” Sweat, a Mississippi state legislator, who, in 1952 when talking about Whiskey and Prohibition, said:
“My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, this is how I feel about whiskey:
“If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
“But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.
“This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.”
There is good in most everything, and that is what makes the current debate — fiasco — over Facebook so tough to deal with.
My best friend growing up lives in San Diego. He is 43 years old and has never — ever — had a Facebook account. His life seems full and nice, married with a child on the way. He has made it without Facebook.
My brother Dan can recite, almost as if he were at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, that “I have been off Facebook 18 months.” He left in 2016 during the heat of the presidential debate. He got tired of being goaded into senseless, ridiculous arguments with loved ones that, in many cases, have had lasting effects.
I am the Facebook watcher, oftentimes liker and rare poster. It is a pretty special occasion or late at night with “Soggy Sweat” influence, that I will post on Facebook. I check it daily, can track many of the knuckleheads that make for our great headlines and follow the latest exploits of my nephews and nieces.
But I find myself the subject of Facebook more now, a year into marriage with the one I write about most — even if she rarely knows about it until she reads it. She likes Facebook a lot. She follows breweries and local restaurants, but never gets caught up in political nonsense. I have found out about some really cool stuff to do because of Facebook and Mark has followed most of my weekend jaunts.
My mom, well, she uses Facebook often, too. She loves to put up quotes to make the world a better place. Nothing wrong with that. She also has become politically active through social media. She has marched for what she believes in, joined a political coalition and has found many like-minded people — many of those through Facebook.
The thing is, your mind is stronger than any influence or addiction that Facebook is said to bring on. It is possible to use it, without sharing every factoid and picture of your life. It is possible to live a super-happy life without ever even logging in.
Do what makes you happy. Really, life is so short. The days of watching junior hit high school home runs and nephew Jackson stare in awe when a New Orleans Street Car passes on South Carrollton are few.
Enjoy your life.
With or without Facebook.
Sean Murphy is editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.