I wrote the following as my letter from the editor in the latest issue of The Writers Network News, but even if you read it in my newsletter, please read it again and note the addendum at the end.
Facebook fascinates me. I admit it. I probably spend more than an hour a day checking, reading, and rereading posts from friends, relatives, and fellow writers. Sometimes the posts have cute videos, which always lure me into taking time to watch people, cats, dogs, bears, raccoons, squirrels, and even foxes doing funny or astonishing things. My next-door neighbor and I joke that the only way we know what the other is doing is by checking Facebook, which thankfully is not completely true.
Most Facebook postings are happy, upbeat, playful, and entertaining, but sometimes I see a mean-spirited posting, and those make me shake my head. What type of person feels the need to post ugly things on a public forum? How does it reflect on the person who posts those things? The pen may indeed be mightier than the sword, but in my opinion, nasty posts on Facebook or Twitter only make the one who posted the note look bad.
Facebook has helped me connect with friends from the past, and most of the time those reconnections are delightful. One ex-boyfriend, though, after reading some of my Facebook posts, commented that I made my life seem idyllic. At first I felt a little hurt, until I realized he is right, because my life may actually be idyllic. I have pursued a career I love, and it has been financially rewarding to me and helpful to hundreds of writers. I wrote a book that I sold to a publisher that gave me an advance and paid me royalties, while the book was in print. I've successfully self-published a few other books that are still selling. I live in a comfortable house I bought on my own and have paid for in full. I have a dog that loves to cuddle with me, so we nurture each other. I have a loving family, and two of my siblings live close enough now that we get together once or twice a week and always have a blast together. I have checked off most of the items on my bucket list. I have traveled the world on planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships, barges, feet, and more. I am blessed with supportive and loving friends. I have a great reputation among writers. I am the mother of an accomplished, handsome man who practices veterinary medicine and who married his best friend, a woman I love as much as he does. So yes, if my Facebook comments seem all too upbeat, blame it on me. I am an upbeat person.
Of course I have suffered setbacks and sad times. I've lost many people I loved, including a child. I spent time in poverty in the past. I endured two divorces. I don't write about those things, though. They did not stop me from moving on with life and building the life I wanted to live.
I feel sorry for those who are not upbeat, who resent other people's successes or good attitudes. I feel sad that some people try to make themselves feel better by spending time and energy trying to hurt others with their poison pens. I think those folks are only poisoning themselves, though. I'm too busy being happy to let negative people pull me down.
You can become my friend on Facebook through either my personal page or my Zebra Communications page. Hey, join me on both, and you'll get to follow my personal posts, which are usually upbeat, as well as my professional posts, which are entertaining and educational. You might see me groan about having a cold or stubbing my toe, but for the most part, I hope my posts are uplifting.
A colleague of mine read the above letter and wrote to me to say he lives with a mild form of bipolar disorder. He explained, "[Viewing Facebook posts] when depressed makes me even more depressed. As mostly joyously positive posts (and self-promotion) predominate, it makes me feel that everyone else in the world is having the greatest time with their lives, with only ecstatic things happening all the time, and here I sit in the middle of an episodic depression which feels like the end of the world. When I feel like that, it's impossible to feel joy for others, and the main feeling is one of jealousy. I know that the mood is likely to pass, but I wanted to let you know that such a perspective might be more common than you would think."
I appreciate the fresh perspective my colleague gave me. Although I am sorry that anyone suffers with difficult mood swings, the information gives me hope. Now I hope that all negative posts, especially those directed at me, are the result of an organic issue in the brains of others, rather than an indication that there are truly mean people in the world. I won't stop posting happy things and thoughts, but if I meet with negative reactions, I will try to understand the issues behind the words.