Tag Archives: Facebook

Weird free-speech fight?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe a Texas Senate bill that takes aim at social media platforms is really bizarre, weird and goofy defense of the First Amendment.

Senate Bill 12 seeks to ban social media companies — such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — from blocking points of view expressed by those that come from within the Texas borders.

Which makes me wonder … huh?

Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed the bill, saying that social media companies led by West Coast billionaires are taking unfair aim at conservative thoughts and thinkers.

The Texas Tribune reports: “They are controlling the flow of information — and sometimes denying the flow of information,” the Republican governor said at a press conference in Tyler. “And they are being in the position where they’re choosing which viewpoints are going to be allowed to be presented. Texas is taking a stand against big tech political censorship. We’re not going to allow it in the Lone Star State.”

Gov. Greg Abbott touts bill to stop Twitter, Facebook from banning Texans | The Texas Tribune

What gives this legislation its weird quality is that it seeks to protect conservative thoughts that come from this state. I am trying to figure out how you control or patrol the airwaves to limit thoughts that originate from a particular state. How does it affect conservatives who happen to live, say, in California, or New York, or New England?

I don’t get this one. Not at all.

Someone has to explain to me the selective enforcement aspect of this goofy legislation.

Social media reveal true friends

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It didn’t take me long to become swallowed up by the social media culture that seems so prevalent.

I am attached to many social media platforms, most of which I use primarily to circulate this blog. Facebook remains my No. 1 social media platform and I appreciate very much the attention that the outlet provides this blog of mine.

Social media, though, do have plenty of downsides. They become primary conveyers of falsehoods, conspiracy theories … those kinds of things. They also reveal to me who out there are our friends.

Here is where I want to make an admission. I have valued many friendships with individuals of varying political persuasions. Then came social media and and I admit to losing some of those friends because of our varying, um, political leanings. Dang, that just makes me want to spit … you know?

I am not proud to acknowledge that the end of those relationships means I’ve been suckered into placing far more value in them than the other party. One of them recently severed a social media relationship after being an actual friend for more than 30 years. He never told me why he was cutting me loose; he just did it. I am left to presume it was our different world views, as we had jousted in recent years about political matters.

Whatever. It’s done. I will continue to use social media to distribute this blog. I enjoy using the various media platforms. I reckon I need to view the relationships I have with others in a more critical light and avoid overvaluing them.

I’m a grownup. I know how these matters play out.

Trump costs friendships

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Damn you, Donald Trump!

You are the cause of my loss of friends. So help me, I’ll never forgive you for that!

Since the advent of Facebook I have categorized friendships through the social medium into two forms. I have Facebook “friends,” and I have the real thing. My Facebook “friends” come and go. I have a number of those folks with whom I might have a casual acquaintance; or perhaps have no interpersonal relationship of any sort.

It’s the number of real “friends” that has begun to dwindle over time. What does this diminution of friendships have in common? The folks who have severed relationships with me are Trumpkins. I am not.

I want to bring to attention one actual friend who bid me adieu about six months ago.

We worked together in Beaumont, Texas. We became pals. We would spend about 20 to 30 minutes each morning chatting about issues of the day. He sat on one side of the fence, I sat on the other. We knew that about each other. We never let it interfere with our friendship.

Then along came Donald Trump. I detest Trump. My friend seems to think Trump is the man to solve all the problems of the nation. My friend and I parted company about 25 years ago, but we stayed in touch. We continued to chat over the phone and occasionally over social media.

My wife and I returned to Beaumont once and met up with our friend. We chatted amiably. Indeed, my friend told me his wife couldn’t understand how we could remain pals despite our vast political difference. My pal’s response to her? He said he told her that “our friendship transcends politics. I never will let politics interfere with that.” I am paraphrasing, but that was the clear message.

It turns out my friend overstated the value of our friendship. He severed his ties with me. We got into a Trump snit. I guess that was all he could take.

Who’s to blame for that? It’s the idiot in chief in the White House.

There have been others. This one, though, still stings a bit. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Donald Trump, the man who should not be president and who I hope for all I am worth gets his a** whipped in the next 13 days.

I doubt the friendship about which I have just told you will revive itself. I am going to hope it does.

Media casualty list climbs

Social media in the Age of Donald Trump have claimed two more casualties … who happen to be members of my family.

I get that two such “injuries” don’t by themselves represent a trend, but I do believe they are indicative of the national mood that Trump has perpetuated since the day he rode down the escalator to declare his presidential candidacy.

These two fellows got into a beef over the Black Lives Matter movement and the behavior of police officers in relation to African-American citizens. One of them decided to “unfriend” the other from Facebook and vowed never to speak to him again. Not ever!

That outcome saddens me, as the two of them once were a lot closer.

This is the kind of thing that has erupted in families and other social circles nationally in this Trump Age.

Donald Trump promised to unify the nation. My goodness, he has done precisely the opposite. He has fomented division, increased the chasm between the political parties and his rhetoric has spawned the kind of anger — among family members, for criminy sakes! — that leads to severed relationships.

Social media haven’t helped, either. The various media have given us a shield behind which we can fire off angry messages, responses to messages, and responses to the responses. On it goes. It never ends.

I am acquainted with many individuals who become crazed ideologues when they sit behind a keyboard. For all I know, many of my friends think the same thing of me. If so, well … too bad.

Others, though, have actually become different people than I know them to be. One of my former friends cut our relationship off after he and another member of my family got into a snit about something; I cannot remember what it was. I took up for my family member. My friend became highly agitated with me — and we parted company. We haven’t spoken since.

These examples are what I am talking about.

Politics isn’t supposed to be a contact sport. At least that is what I long have thought and believed. At some level I still do. I choose not to engage good friends — actual friends — and family members in the nuts and bolts of policy disagreements. I try the best of my ability to let it all roll away.

It’s tough, especially in this Age of Donald Trump.

Thanks, Mr. President, for “unifying” us … my a**!

Time of My Life, Part 49: Those were the days

Social media occasionally allow us a look into the past, giving us a chance to reminisce on how it used to be and even think wistfully about what we are missing.

So it happened today when a friend and former colleague posted a faux newspaper page saluting his departure from his job and the start of a new adventure. My friend left the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise in the late 1980s and the posting of the page on Facebook has elicited a lot of comment from our colleagues and friends about this fellow and about the special feelings we all felt toward each other.

It reminds me of a series of special relationships I was able to cultivate during my career in print journalism. My journalism journey took me to four newspapers: two in Oregon and two in Texas. The first job was at the Oregon Journal, the now-defunct evening paper in Portland. My second job took me to the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier. Job No. 3 transported me to Beaumont. The fourth post was in Amarillo, Texas.

Throughout much of that journey, I was able to make lasting friendships that have survived the tumult, turmoil and occasionally the tempest of an industry that has undergone — and is undergoing — so much change.

I cherish those friendships perhaps more than I have expressed to those with whom I have worked, played, laughed and occasionally cried.

I mentioned to the friend who displayed the “fake” page the special camaraderie we enjoyed in Beaumont. It truly was a remarkable, talented group of professionals. Moreover, many of them had huge hearts that they opened up to me, who was then brand new to Texas and who had much to learn about the state and the community I would serve as editorial page editor of the newspaper. Moreover, I had left my family in Oregon when I took the job; they would join me later that year and we’ve never looked back. Many of my colleagues knew I was lonesome for my wife and young sons and they took me in, invited me to social gatherings and brought me into their fold.

That all made my transition to Texas that much easier.

Then again, the relationships I developed in Oregon City, Beaumont and Amarillo aren’t unique in an industry that used to comprise individuals from disparate backgrounds. They came together to work for an organization, seeking to do the best job they could do, to keep faith with the readers they served.

The newspaper industry, as we know, has been torn asunder in recent times. The Enterprise-Courier is gone; the Beaumont Enterprise staff has been decimated, as has the staff at the Amarillo Globe-News. We’ve all moved on, some to retirement, some to pursue — as the saying goes — “other interests.”

The Facebook post reminded me of how it used to be. I shall cling tightly to those memories. Those truly were the good ol’ days.

Wait for the whining about Facebook ‘censorship’

Facebook has done the absolutely correct thing by pulling down a Donald Trump re-election campaign ad that displays a symbol used by Nazis to designate political prisoners.

I cannot wait for the yammering, whining and whimpering to start now from the Trump team, complaining that Facebook is being “politically correct.”

The symbol is a red inverted triangle the Nazis would use to identify individuals bound for, um, death camps and other forms of political imprisonment. Indeed, it is reprehensible in the extreme for such symbols to show up anywhere these days, let alone coming from a campaign for a president of the United States seeking re-election.

As the Washington Post reported: A red inverted triangle was first used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties. The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a yellow triangle overlaid by a red triangle.

What in the name of common decency is the Trump team trying to convey?

They either are ignorant, arrogant or simply stupid.

Hey, I’ll go with all of the above.

Trump has decided to go after antifa, the loosely based collection of protesters often identified with far-left movements. Indeed, the word “antifa” is shorthand for “anti-fascist,” which is precisely the kind of movement that this modern-day group would oppose … and which was the focal point of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany.

Facebook acted correctly.

As for the ad it took down, well, it speaks volumes about Donald John Trump.

Has this medium gotten too ‘negative’? Perhaps, but I’m staying with it

A Facebook acquaintance announced the other day he is taking a break from the social medium.

It’s gotten too negative he says. He is tired of the negativity, so he’s bowing out. Maybe he’ll come back. I know this fellow a bit, although not well. We have a friendly relationship, so I’ll miss his occasional postings.

Am I going to follow suit? Hah! Not even …

I use Facebook — along with other social media — as a vehicle to peddle my blog, which I call High Plains Blogger. I write my blog posts, then send them out along my Facebook network of “friends” and actual friends. Yeah, a lot of my blog posts are political in nature. Yes, too, they contain “negative” content; that’s the nature of politics.

However, I choose to avoid getting too worked up in exchanges with those who disagree with my political musings. I express my thoughts and those musings stand as my comment. If someone wants to disagree with them, that is their call. It is my call as well to let them have their say, given that I already have had my say on issues of the day.

I have been tempted at times to bow out, to step away from Facebook. I enjoy the platform on a personal level as well. I am able to stay current with people I have met along my life’s journey. Some of my several hundred Facebook network members are actual friends. A few of them are really dear friends, folks I have known for a long time or individuals with whom I have forged unique relationships.

There are a number of these individuals who disagree with my political leaning. They express their disagreements on Facebook. Fine. Go for it. I let ’em vent and generally stay silent. What might spur a response would be if they question (a) my faith or (b) my love of country. Neither line of commentary will not stand.

I am going to stay with it. I respect my Facebook acquaintance’s decision to step away. It’s just not for me.

Wounded by maximum division in Age of Trump

I want to declare myself a casualty in the ongoing “war” between friends who share opposing views of Donald John Trump.

A fellow I have known for more than 30 years has inflicted the wound. It’s not mortal. I will survive and I will proceed with the rest of my life. However, I want to share with you the pain — albeit momentary — I am feeling over the emotional injury I have suffered.

We were connected on Facebook. My longtime friend and I would “converse” on occasion via that social medium. He and I would exchange in small talk, inquire our families and refer occasionally to the good old days when we worked together.

He is a Donald Trump supporter. I … am not! He would challenge my anti-Trump tirades. I might respond. Not always, mind you, but I did on occasion.

My friend — and I’ll continue to refer to him as such — once told me that his wife couldn’t grasp how he and I could retain a friendship given our vast political differences. He said he told her that our friendship transcended politics. Wow! How cool. Right?

Well, it seems that he has had enough of our friendship. I hadn’t heard from him in some time, so I checked on the status of our Facebook relationship. I discovered that he and I were no longer “friends” on the social medium.

What the … ?

I haven’t inquired directly of him. I haven’t asked him why he “unfriended” me. I haven’t asked for an explanation. I am trying to decide what to do. Right now I am licking my wound.

I am left to ponder the effect that Donald Trump has had on friendships all over the country. Surely my example is not the only one. Others’ relationships no doubt have suffered in this Age of Trump. We are witnessing in this fractious time the impact that social media coupled with the toxic political environment fostered by Donald Trump is having on interpersonal relationships.

It looks unprecedented to my eyes. My entry into politics occurred in the early 1970s. I came home from the Army. I enrolled in college. I became politically active. I fought like hell to elect George McGovern president in 1972. It, um, didn’t work out. However, those dark days didn’t produce lasting damage to my friendships with those who opposed Sen. McGovern’s effort to become elected president.

This time it’s different. Shockingly so!

I’ll get over the injury I have suffered. Eventually. I’ll just need to redouble my effort to make sure we remove Donald Trump from the high office he never should have inherited in the first place. His presence on the political stage is dangerous to our emotional health.

He also is inflicting damage on too many friendships.

It’s getting too cruel, folks

Your friendly blogger — that would be me — believes it is time to level a complaint against a popular social medium … or more to the point, against the way some of my “friends” are using it.

I’ve given it away. I’m talking about Facebook.

In this Age of Donald Trump, I discovered long ago that many of his followers/cultists are using Facebook to launch attacks of amazing cruelty against those with whom they disagree. They get their cue from the Big Man his own self.

This is the guy who has mocked the physical appearance of his political foes and women who have accused him of sexual misbehavior; he has mocked a New York Times reporter’s physical challenges; he has denigrated the accent of his Alabama-born former attorney general. Accordingly, the Trumpsters out there have followed Trump’s lead and have sullied Facebook with hideous photos of those who have opposed the man who masquerades as the president of the United States.

I need to make a couple of points.

First, I have a number of Facebook “friends” who actually are friends of mine who fall into that category of Trump cultist. I even have some members of my family, individuals I love because they are family even though we disagree politically.

I have put some of them on notice, though, that if I see any future Facebook posts that trade on gratuitous cruelty, I will (a) delete the post from my news fee and (b) sever our Facebook connection.

I do not mind political disagreements in the least. I spent the vast bulk of my professional life dishing out opinions on newspaper editorial pages and taking plenty of heat and grief from those who disagree with what I had to say.

I damn sure do mind cruelty. I have sought to refrain from referencing a few of Donald Trump’s physical traits that have drawn barbs from others. I will disagree mightily with what Trump says and does, but I will not poke fun at matters that have nothing to do with public policy.

My second point is that fairness should require me to demand the same of anti-Trump individuals who post these social media messages and images that denigrate the president. Full disclosure: My bias gets in the way of fairness … and I regret that. My goal now is to look more critically at the hideous images that come to my Facebook feed.

I need to remind myself that I am better than the target of these attacks … even though he brings all of it onto himself.

Social media produce schizophrenia

I made this discovery a while ago, but it’s worth sharing today. It is that social media have created a form of schizophrenia among those who are active on the various platforms provided by these outlets.

How does it present itself? Well, I have plenty of acquaintances around the world with whom I have had good interpersonal relations. That is, when we meet face to face we are cordial, even friendly when we interact.

Then when they sit behind a keyboard and send messages — even to me — they take on a different sort of personality. The Internet version of these individuals bears no resemblance to the person I have met and interacted with in the flesh.

Why is that? I suppose the physical distance gives them license to say things they otherwise wouldn’t say if we’re sitting across from each other over a meal.

Politics drives this sort of multi-personality trait I recognize.

I have friends who, to cite one notable example, are seriously avid fans of Donald J. Trump. I am an equally serious foe of Donald J. Trump. These friends and I have wonderful interpersonal relationships when we see each other. Then they choose on occasion to challenge my regular diatribes against the president. They write the most unusual things on various social media platforms, notably on Twitter and Facebook.

One friend actually decided to sever our relationship some years ago over a spat he got into with a member of my family; I believe Donald Trump was at the core of their dispute. They exchanged nasty rejoinders on Facebook. I took up for my family member. My friend didn’t like what I said. So … he “unfriended” me with an angry note that said, in effect, I could go straight to hell. 

He sort of proves my point. He never would have said such a thing to me in person. Indeed, I long thought we were pretty good friends, as we would meet on occasion for lunch in the Texas Panhandle. Then it was over. I think it was a schizophrenic response that took over his brain in the moment. Sadly, we haven’t revived our friendship. I fear it’s deader than dead.

It’s all part of what goes with the territory in this world of blogging … which I continue to enjoy greatly.

Oh, and just so you know, I try to avoid falling into the schizophrenia trap. I’ll let others be the judge on whether I have succeeded.