Note: I delete, block or unfriend…

15 Nov

Some have asked about my announcement, “Note: I delete, block or unfriend any comments that are contrary or oppositional.”  Let me explain…

Most people view Facebook as an interactive social platform, designed for conversing with one another.  And I agree.  But just as in face-to-face conversation, social freedoms leading to correction (especially public correction) need to be like salt… used sparingly… or maybe not at all, especially if you are a dinner guest at your friend’s house.  And it’s probably wise to refrain from recounting the defects you perceive about their house… especially when you’re in front of other guests.

On occasion, I’ve been invited to public debate on FB with people who’ve already said they disagree with my position.  In my opinion, to accept would be folly on my part.  The wrangling of loud voices in public is almost never enjoyable or constructive.  The minds of the main arbiters are rarely changed… and there is the high probability of long term residual offense.  But an even bigger problem is the collateral damage to all the innocent people who witnessed the impassioned venting.

This is not much different from parents bickering in front of their children.  The parents probably didn’t solve anything in their tangle, but the innocent children will undoubtedly carry the resulting wounding and scarring… possibly for years.  Respect says, take the dispute to an appropriate forum where the innocents don’t have to carry the hurtful consequence of the fray.

And closer to home: Spouses, what happens if we release a volley of uninvited opposition, correction or criticism?  How does that work out?  Okay, I think we’re starting to get the picture.

I always find it strange when a someone who has never commented on anything on my FB page, takes the liberty to correct me in their very first comment.  I just find that very interesting….  Maybe they could have at least tried using the ‘sandwich rule’: Start with one slice of commendation, then add a couple thin slices of correction, and finally, top it off with another slice of commendation.

Some have said that my policy is unfair and not “tolerant”.  Unfortunately, the one who initiates uninvited correction is often the one who is intolerant.  Just a cursory look at the spiralling social trends in our country in recent years, clearly reveals this sad fact.  The ones who protested so loudly for tolerance, are now overtly intolerant.  I wonder… is this a result of a short-term memory loss… or a character problem… or a faulty value system?

It’s possible that when I ask questions in my narratives, it may cause a little confusion.  People may wonder if I’m inviting a response.  But as we know, there are many ways to artfully present a point.  Asking questions is just one of many effective communication mediums.  Sometimes questions are intended to solicit dialog… and sometimes questions are meant to inspire thought.  In most of my writings, my questions are meant to inspire thought (as in the previous paragraph).

The way I see it, my Facebook page is my turf… my ‘real estate’.  When I present a topic, I want to stay on topic.  I am not willing for someone of the opposite opinion to determine the direction of my narrative.  Unfortunately, the self-appointed ‘PC police’ in our country are all too eager to shout down and rudely hijack all voices that they don’t agree with.  To be sure, I want them to enjoy the same 1st Amendment rights afforded to all of us… just do it on their own turf.

For the record:
1. In many of the venues where I speak, I pointedly solicit open dialog and response… even on an open mic.  If everyone remains respectful, this type of group interaction can be very effective.

2. I have never posted a contrary or oppositional idea on anyone else’s public Facebook page!  That would be extremely rude and a usurping of their turf, in an attempt to assert my own agenda.  But I have sent them a private message if I felt like the situation was serious enough for me to offer uninvited advice.  Even then, my communications employ some level of finesse and decorum… since I wasn’t invited.  I never assume that I have the right to invade another person’s turf with oppositional conversation… unless I do it privately.

Let’s look at this same principle in a completely different setting.

Let’s say that you live in a neighborhood where all your neighbors have come to respect your reputation and convictions.  You have served them, blessed them and won their favor.  Then one day I come to your street and post oppositional signs in your yard.  The signs say how much I disagree with your views, your values and your message…. how much you are misguided and wrong.  You would be absolutely incensed!!!  No one would be ok with my actions… or even tolerate them.  As soon as you realized what I had done, with a flourish of indignation, you would immediately yank out my sign.  And you would wonder why I hadn’t come speak to you privately.  Why would I take my confrontation of you and your values to the public forum without first imploring you privately… the respectful and Biblical way?

Further, wouldn’t it frustrate you that I felt freedom to impose my values upon your friends… friends with whom you’ve worked so hard to earn their respect?  They don’t even know me… but I’ve just asserted my currently trendy freedoms to use your ‘platform’ of influence to devalue you and to assert my values.  That can’t be good any way we look at it.

Further, if you had always been nothing but kind to me… you had always affirmed me and my family… and then my first public discourse with you was to oppose you and point out how wrong you were… Wouldn’t my offensive behavior be confusing for you, after you had been so kind to me?  I imagine that by now the reader understands….

Our society’s short-fused volatility incites even more angst because there seems to be no boundaries to how far one can go.  Public correction and dog-pile pile-on humiliation is as common as a fish drinks water, these days.  The bully pulpit seems to know no ethics.  Once the assailing has begun; accusation, amplitude, verbosity… and even lies… seem to have no limit until the target person gets shouted down… not unlike a pack of rabid hyenas.  Has anyone seen this in the public arena, recently?  Were any of us inspired?  Were we repulsed?  I going to guess that we felt the latter… even to the point of switching it off!

I think most people know… and if they don’t know, they innately feel… that arguing is wrong… and definitely out of place, in the public eye.

The one bullying and the one trying to present their conviction… both will often pay a high price when suckered into this kind of fray.  In reality, both participants will lose a portion of their reputation and the good will in the hearts and minds of those who know them.  Almost no one enjoys a combat-prone person.

Now, I want to give the benefit of the doubt, regarding this matter.  I’m confident that most people don’t mean to be disrespectful.  They’re good people for sure!  It’s more likely that they’re just gullibly following the world’s trend of edgy social acceptabilities… and they don’t realize how they’re coming across.  It is for this reason that I preempt potentially negative comments with my notice… (“Note: I delete….”) just to give people a heads-up.  Maybe people will think before they disrespect themselves… and the person they’re communicating to… and the innocent viewers who were happy with the original narrative.  Maybe together, we can help promote a “kinder and gentler” world.

So let me sum it up by saying that it gives me no pleasure to enforce my policy.  I much prefer that people would be respectful.  But simply put, I am not willing for my narrative, on my ‘real estate’, to be hijacked by someone else’s oppositional values.  Private message communication will always be acceptable for me… and I believe, it is the first approach in any respectful conversation that is going to be confrontational or oppositional.  I know it’s not the trendy way to do it, but then when did the world ever start setting the standards for respect and rightness?  Let’s have an honorable conversation like respectable grown-ups.  We can do this!


8 Responses to “Note: I delete, block or unfriend…”

  1. Jamie November 15, 2018 at 1:25 PM #

    Mark So well written! I love your strong tact. I am not nearly so kind. I equate deleting and blocking with taking out the trash from my house! 😂

    Blessings man. I love you and miss you.

    Much love Jamie


    • Mark Hendrickson January 19, 2019 at 8:09 PM #

      I hear you, my bro! It seems like a no-brainer. People should know better than disrespect others’ turf. Didn’t their mommy’s and daddy’s teach them this basic stuff? So, if it comes down to it, in order to have some level of sanity in any conversation, one has to do the ‘tough love’ thing.
      I follow you on your adventures. So proud of you! You’re my hero!
      Love ya

  2. Esther November 15, 2018 at 2:17 PM #

    Thanks Mark! Love it! Such a great message for our time. I will probably reread this..I want to be aligned with higher wisdom when it comes to Social media. Trying to figure out what it looks like to be an effective voice or advocate for a greater good but in a respectful way.

    • Mark Hendrickson November 16, 2018 at 1:28 PM #

      Esther, the temptation is to try to secure influence off of someone else’s platform/influence. It seems so easy… and our society sort of condones it. It’s kind of like the forbidden fruit in The Garden… so tempting… but wrong. Many grasp for that low-hanging fruit. That ‘illicit’ ill-gotten influence will be only temporary. It will actually bruise us and make us it’s servant.
      Conversely, if we understand spiritual laws, we know that we only really have what God gives us. Jesus said, “I can do nothing apart from my Father.” If we will ask God for the creative ways that He wants to advance us, then the influence we gain will be true… have the support of Heaven… and be lasting.

  3. Laura Jacobson November 15, 2018 at 9:10 PM #

    Very well said!

    LauraJ, who agrees with you👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻


    • Mark Hendrickson November 16, 2018 at 1:35 PM #

      Laura, Thank you! I hope the words are received well. The tempting acceptable social permissions are screaming out our name. Usurp, usurp USURP someone else’s influence. It’s so easy to grab, that it takes a very secure person to resist the magnetism of an opportunity to quickly vent on someone else’s platform. Maturity says that if I really care… if this issue is vitally and eternally important, then I must muster the daring and care to approach the person privately and respectfully. I hope that more and more people are up to that challenge. Maybe we really could have a kinder and gentler world.

  4. christianel January 5, 2021 at 2:40 PM #

    Papa Mark, i have always appreciated your kind heart towards everyone. You continuously extend grace, even where it may be difficult to do so. I love (and agree with) this article and appreciate the tact and love you display, even in dealing with a really tough and often confusing topic. Thank you for your insight. I often have to ask God for forgiveness for my frustration over the way our society has behaved. The “tolerants” only tolérant when you agree with them; and then suddenly it’s their right to bully and shove you into a corner to make you feel bad. I’m so over that. Anyway, God’s blessings to you and Deb! ♥️

    • Mark Hendrickson January 5, 2021 at 3:09 PM #

      Christiane, this is a great learning experience for all of us. Can we be committed to relating with respectful interactions with each other? God help us all become a kinder and more respectful America.

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