‘Did you just say that on Facebook?’

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category icon Columns, Opinion
Margaret Svilar

Ever since the evolution of Facebook, I always knew that optimal behavior for myself, my family, and my friends would be necessary.

Yes, it is a known fact that “what happens today, will be on Facebook tomorrow.” This fact is as true and consistent as needing a raincoat in these parts. When some people say something out of sheer stupidity, what happens when that is done on Facebook? Sometimes it is read with a chuckle, sometimes it will spread like wildfire on a crackly, dry day. It has gone “viral.”

Not unlike the nasty flu starting to invade our community, stories that involve Facebook aficionados (usually subscribers ages 14 to 25), seem to spread very quickly through the community. This recent incident at Camas High School is certainly no exception. A verbal altercation at a CHS basketball game escalated because of a specific comment posted on Facebook.

The comment was threatening and utterly insensitive. My first reaction was probably shared by hundreds of other Facebook users: “How idiotic of a parent of a high school student to post that?” Was it really a parent? Especially in the wake of recent events in Newtown, Conn., and throughout the country, the “viral-ness” of this incident went crazy.

I believe that school administration had no choice but to treat this like a viable threat, involving local law enforcement, witnesses, and other school district administration. The news media reported it, much to the surprise of many people who may have thought it was no big deal.

Something seems to be missing from this equation though. What possessed a parent to post such a terrible thing? I know school rivalries can be intense and sometimes even get out of hand. Parents with children playing on school teams have so much support and emotion involved that it is common that cheering loudly, very loudly, is commonplace. But it is not just this cheering loudly that get emotions going. Yelling obscenities, saying rude statements about players, screaming at other fans, and loudly criticizing officials, I have witnessed this all at sporting events. I have even heard of students taking up a campaign against a particular athlete and isolating them in their “cheering” against an opposing team. It is enough to get any parent, even a fan, completely out of whack.

I am not saying that any of this justifies the sheer stupidity of a threatening Facebook comment. It may have been a knee-jerk reaction in the world of Facebook for all to see. But it was a threat nonetheless.

When Facebook first invaded our world, was it given the serious credibility it is today? We are all growing at different speeds and maturity in our new social media world. The fact remains that what you say, think, or do is your business. But what you post on Facebook is completely another story. “Going viral” is a term we will be hearing the rest of our lives. Maybe it is time that the kindness we say we want to share, “goes viral” as well.

Margaret Svilar transplanted to Camas from Minnesota about 17 years ago. She recently retired from Northwest/Delta Airlines where she worked for 30 years. She is trying to determine what she wants to do when she grows up.