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More Facebook, less Hatebook

     We know you have at least one, a Facebook friend who drowns the Newsfeed with their incessant, hate-filled posts about religion, politics, or whichever issue they have stuck in their craw.

     You know the kind: “God, can you please answer my prayers and rid the world of all the idiots I’m forced to deal with?” [Actual status update].

     If you are one of these fomenting commenters, we would like to tell you your endless comments and weird photos about “Obummer,” “ignorant Christians,” anti-gays, pro-choicers, or anyone who isn’t just like you get old. We also think you are doing yourself a huge disservice in the real world.

     Hatebookers need to think hard about the impact negative posts have on their social lives. People read their unpleasant status updates, make judgments, and then make decisions about interacting with these same people in person. The following are two recent examples from our staff’s experience.

     One of our employees is “friends” with a person who makes several status updates daily about how much he hates President Obama and really just about anything that smells of a Democrat or liberal. One example: “10 out of 10 idiots support Obama.” One day our employee saw this same person in a grocery store but opted not to say hello. He pretended not to see his “friend” and walked the other way. Why? The employee wasn’t offended by this person’s politics but by the sheer volume (quantity and shrillness) of their one-track recording on things political, at least as spouted on Facebook.

     Chances are the public encounter between these friends would have been filled with trite little pleasantries, but why risk it?

     Another staff member was reacquainted with her best friend from elementary school on Facebook but has been hesitant to set up a meeting, because of this person’s outlandish, extreme animal rights posts, i.e., “I love animals, it’s people I hate.” If they met up for dinner, would our employee’s chicken tacos reap a hearty side serving of the stink eye, or worse yet, a lecture?

     Interestingly enough, people who make these type posts are usually cordial and even friendly when you talk to them in person. So, what is it about social media forums that can turn these same folks into raging jerks?

     Studies out of the University of Waterloo have shown that people who continually make negative posts on line may actually have self-esteem issues. One researcher said social media forums seem safer, so people with lower self-esteem feel more comfortable sharing their emotions in these forums than they do in face-to-face social interaction.

     The study examined posts from people who said they have low-self esteem, and found the majority of those posts were negative. The study also showed that not only did the negative posts not succeed in making the person who penned them feel better about him or herself, but their friends found them less likable because of what they had posted.

     “We found that although people with low self-esteem considered Facebook an appealing venue for self-disclosure, the low positivity and high negativity of their disclosures elicited undesirable responses from other people,” ––stated in the abstract of the study, published in Psychological Science.

     We don’t think the average Facebook user wants to spend their time ranting about serious issues. So, Hatebookers, you aren’t doing yourself any good, and it’s not doing the rest of us any good, for you to keep heaping coals onto the world’s aggregate anger. For the next week, why not make only positive posts (or at least cut your stream of negativity in half) just to see how your mood changes and how responses from your friends may change.

     Much like negative attitudes, positive attitudes are contagious. And we’ll take positive over negative any day.

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