It’s funny what will get some people riled up on Facebook.
I started posting on Facebook many years ago as a way to bring attention to some of the stories and interviews I was doing on television at the time. These days I post for my own amusement and perhaps for a bit of shameless self-promotion.
But I have learned over the years it is more risky to write about some things on Facebook than others. A few examples:
Donald Trump. Anything Donald Trump. I enjoy posting direct quotes from the president and then watching the invariable sparks fly. Left and right, pro and con. From time to time, things get a little out of hand. I don’t like to unfriend or block Facebook “friends.” But sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do.
The Oxford comma. Honestly. This one came as a big surprise to me. I never thought much about it. Recently, for no real reason I can remember, I posted, “Peter, Paul and Mary never used the damn Oxford comma. Why should I?” (I know, some of my references could use a little freshening.)
For reasons I don’t fully understand, some people are passionate about “the comma” and almost evenly divided on its use. One Oxford admirer going so far as to tell me, “This is the hill I will die on.” She was joking. I hope.
Marilyn Hagerty. For years in her famous Eat Beat column in the Grand Forks Herald, Marilyn has been commenting on the quality of area restaurants’ napkins, the cleanliness of their restrooms, readability of their menus and sometimes even their food. (Note the absence of the Oxford comma.)
Some time ago I started “pulling” quotes from Marilyn’s columns and posting them on Facebook. When I say famous, I’m not exaggerating. One of Marilyn’s columns got so many hits on the internet a few years ago it attracted the attention of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. He not only defended her from an online attack, but later also published a collection of her columns in book form. Once Anderson Cooper called her his favorite guest on his then talk show.
When people think I’m putting Marilyn down or making fun of her, I hear from them in no uncertain terms. I’m really not. I’m not that dumb.
Posting a quote from one of Marilyn’s Eat Beat columns highlights what one Facebook friend called the quirkiness of her writing. I do so with great fondness.
Besides, I’ve known Marilyn since before she went viral. Over what is now several decades, together we have moderated a mayoral debate, judged UND Potato Bowl parade units as well as a ton of cooking and baking contests.
Her weekly writing workload for Herald is admirable by any standard. For someone over ninety, it is remarkable. She could write me under the table any time.
I think Marilyn would tell you she doesn’t take herself too seriously and neither should we.
So, that’s it. My unsolicited advice to the wise. Plus this. Never, ever write anything on Facebook using the words pro-abortion, anti-abortion, pro-choice or pro-life. Not unless you’re prepared to defend yourself for hours, even days at a time.
I’ve also found it to be a little dicey to write about Libertarians, circumcision, pumpkin spice and Cher. I’m sure I’ll stumble on some others in the days ahead.