Who would have thought in 2004 that a nascent novelty website called Facebook would achieve a life of its own over the next 18 years? With almost 3-billion monthly users as of late 2021, Facebook is the most-used social media venue in the world. There lies the good news and the bad news. Free expression means instant communication with loved ones and friends, exchanges of photos, video and free-wheeling conversations about infinite subjects. And when those conversations become toxic, a range of reactions ensue from hurt feelings to illegal acts to lawsuits. Despite impotent efforts by Facebook’s owner, Meta, to reign in some of the hate and some of its troubling algorithms, the line between frank discussion and abuse is crossed on a daily, even hourly basis.
Enter Marklyn Johnson, a central New Jersey comedian, emcee, author and Facebook personality. His new book, Facebook Conversations: The Good. The Funny. The Ugly. brings into clear focus the online debates of our time as they play out in the often toxic Facebook environment.
“People are so cautious so as not to share their opinion and say I’m gonna offend this person if I say it,” he says. “And I think that’s why we’re not getting along because we’re not being our authentic selves. And you see this in work relationships. You see it in family relationships. You see it in dating. People are scared to share their truth, so they would rather create the lie.”
Johnson is evidently not afraid to share his truth, giving opinions during his Facebook live broadcasts and frequent posts. And that, as you might expect, has consequences.
“If you’re the person that says, no, I’m gonna share my truth, then you’re ostracized because how dare you share a truth that everybody kind of talks, but they don’t want to say it because it’s how dare you say it out loud.”
My conversation with Marklyn touches on both of our Facebook pet peeves, but also promotes the idea that just maybe, honesty is a good thing when we examine how we communicate with others. After all, you don’t have to be hateful, racist or ignorant to be honest. Here’s our chat on the Independent Author podcast: