Are there rules about “appropriate” topics for Facebook?

Amber doesn’t think so. When the homeschooling mom saw a friend admonished for posting about her divorce, Amber took exception to the claim that Facebook isn’t “the place for that kind of discussion.”

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As she wrote on Facebook, social media isn’t “just for sharing patriotic memes and David Wolfe videos.”

Amber told Dearly that her post came after seeing family and friends taken to task on social media for sharing deeply personal news:

“I have had friends get scolded for announcing a death in the family. One was told not to post things of a personal nature when she shared about her depression because of her chronic illness which causes a significant amount of pain. The last straw was a friend who simply announced she and her husband were divorcing. She did not say why, merely made the announcement and the first post was by a family member scolding her for announcing personal things on Facebook.”

Knowing that there are many people who are geographically or socially isolated, who feel lonely, suffer social anxiety, or are depressed, Amber wants to encourage them to share what’s happening in their lives. Even if it’s an area that someone else considers off-limits for social media.

She says she’s frustrated by the fact that people are discouraged from sharing their lives when some of them have few other outlets for interaction. She told Dearly:

“I think that some people only use Facebook as entertainment, for playing games or sharing memes and they don’t actually know the people on their friends’ list. And that’s okay too, but they don’t realize that there are also lots of people who rely on it as their only connection to the outside world.”

That’s why she’s happy to see photos of food and new cars and vacations. And she wants to hear about divorces and be able to share condolences for the loss of a loved one. She wrote:

I want to see your photos of what you are eating. I want to see your political posts and hear what you have to say. I want to hear about your divorce. I want to tell you how sorry I am that your loved one has passed away. I want to see how your garden is doing and pictures of your kids’ school work they bring home. I want to see that “new” used car you just bought and I want to see every bad photo from your cruise.

Though some complain about parents and their tendency to overshare photos of their children, Amber isn’t joining in. She wants to see photos of kids, or dogs, or cats, or whatever else is important in her the lives of her online friends:

I want to see every one of the ten thousand photos of your kids you post each week. (And yes, you child-free friends who constantly complain about having to see all the kid photos your friends post, I also want to see the ten thousand photos you post of your cat.) I want to see your joy when you get a new puppy. I want to see your drawings and videos of your favorite song.

And in contrast to those who think painful news should stay off their feed, Amber wants to know about sad news and bad days:

And I want to see your posts about your depression. I want to hear if your partner has been abusing you. I want to know if you’ve been suffering from chronic illness. I want to hear of your bad days, your pregnancy loss, your fight with your spouse. I want to know if your kids have driven you to want to walk out that door or drown yourself in wine.

For those who want to “be nasty” about what others “post in good faith,” Amber has only two words: “Quit it.”

As she explains, unwritten rules about how to properly use Facebook shouldn’t keep people from the help and human interaction they need:

No one should have to suffer alone in silence because some old ninny thinks it’s inappropriate to talk about those kinds of things. People end their lives every day because they think it’s not okay to talk openly about their feelings.

Complaints about oversharing, vague-booking, and using social media “wrong” are legion. But Amber believes they’re also misplaced. As she told Dearly, there’s already a mechanism that lets you manage your social media feed. So use it rather than trying to control what others share:

“Facebook is like your personal radio station. It should play all you all the time — whatever is most important to you in that moment. If another person feels uncomfortable with it, they have the option to unfriend. Just like you would stop hanging out with someone in the physical world if you didn’t get along.”

Amber points out that we should “learn to open up to others.” And that anyone who has an issue with posts about feelings or life experiences — or labels them “inappropriate” — isn’t a friend at all. And thus, doesn’t belong on a friends list.

She notes that the internet lets you open your social circle far wider than before, making it easier to find friends you’re compatible with. There’s great potential for comfort and connection when “there’s someone out there for every type of personality and interest.”

For her part, Amber is ready and willing to hear whatever her friends have to tell her, no matter how serious, trivial, or potentially icky:

“And if you need to talk, I’m here. (Or if you just want me to look at that weird rash on your nipple, I’m cool with that, too.)”

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