A few thoughts for the chicken-buyers and the chicken-boycotters.

Dear friends,

I’ve spent the last 48 hours alternately enraged and saddened. And disgusted and angry. And puzzled and introspective.

And when I feel this way, I only have one solution: write.

This is not a topic I particularly want to tackle, but it’s surely on my heart and my heart is heavy. So here are the best words on the topic I could manage to write.

I have 343 “friends” on Facebook. They span all ages (from friends of my teenagers all the way to friends of my parents). They span all religious beliefs (I can think of no less than four faith traditions represented among my group, and likely dozens of denominations.) Both genders, many races, single and married, straight and homosexual. Right wing, left wing, in the middle.

And, over the last two days, a good number of my 343 friends carried the divisions in our political and civic life to the pages of Facebook in a silly skirmish over the beliefs of a man who heads a chicken restaurant. How in the world a culture war (ideological war?) ended up being fought in the parking lots of Chick-Fil-A’s across America — while Facebook pulsated with battle updates — makes no sense to me.

But what I do understand is that my friends are divided, and some of them were downright gleeful in staking out their positions on Chick-Fil-A at the expense of those on the other side. And I’m talking about “the other side” both ways, folks.

I don’t want to rehash the whole story. I have an entirely different point I want to make that has nothing to do with Chick-Fil-A. But first, just so you understand, I fully support the civil rights of homosexuals. And I don’t find homosexuals or their lifestyles worthy of condemnation.

But that’s not my point either. My point is I support the rights of homosexuals, but some of my friends and family don’t. We have honest differences. I have a hard time understanding their point of view (to be frank, it feels like bigotry to me). And I’m sure they have a hard time understanding my point of view. (I can only guess it feels to them like I’m willfully disobeying God, which is a sacrilege.)

But whether they’re bigots or I’m unfaithful to God is not the point. The point is — do we really have to stake out our territory on Facebook with snarky, self-righteous posts that do nothing but inflame and diminish us all?

When a chicken-buyer says he just stood up for families and God’s word (with four exclamation points after the announcement), does that help the other side move toward any increment of respectful dialogue or reconciliation?

When a chicken-boycotter declares the chicken-buyers are bigots (in all caps) and responsible for perpetuating hate in our world, does that help?

Of course not. So why do we do it? It feels like we are afraid, but I can’t figure out what the chicken-buyers and the chicken-boycotters really have to fear from each other. We’re “friends” for Pete’s sake! (Not to mention neighbors in many cases.) If God will stand in judgment of heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, can’t we just let God be the judge? And until that day, can’t we agree to disagree, can’t we remain friends or at least respectful acquaintances, without hurling our blatant fear and/or disgust for alternative viewpoints at each others’ faces on a social networking site?

I’m as susceptible as anyone to the tendency to jump on strident, bandwagon posts about social issues. I made a couple of Facebook comments in support of the chicken-boycotters to friends who share my viewpoint. But when I couldn’t think of a single conciliatory thing to say to the chicken-buyers, I was suddenly, startlingly stopped in my tracks. Facebook is an interesting and powerful forum, but it’s no place to have a serious discussion over deeply held beliefs with my “friends.” Because last time I checked, I’m not snarky with them in person. I don’t bait them, and I don’t gig them just to gig them. I don’t peer down my nose at them, and when we disagree, we respectfully disagree. Somehow, all that gets lost on Facebook, where political and ideological posturing is rampant. And isn’t it sad . . . the posturing among “friends?” We must be doing it, I think, because we feel powerless to be heard elsewhere. I could probably make an assertion here about Washington gridlock and partisan politics as contributing factors to our feelings of powerlessness, but that train of thought clearly won’t get us anywhere. If it would, we wouldn’t be throwing tomatoes at each other on Facebook.

So I’m going to close with one more thought. It is from my heart and I’m trying as hard as I can to express it with love and without enmity for those whose views are different from mine.

A few months ago, I started reading a blog called Raising my Rainbow. It’s the first “Mommy-blog” to chronicle the “daily joys, struggles, and, sometimes, embarrassments” of raising a gender-nonconforming son. What that means is the author has a little boy named CJ who wants to be a little girl. At age 5. Is he gay? CJ’s Mom doesn’t know. And through her candid, heart-wrenching posts, I’ve learned the differences between sex, gender and sexuality. As CJ’s mom says, “Sex is what’s in your pants, it’s your genitalia. Gender is what’s in your brain, it tells you that you are female or male. Sexuality is what’s in your heart, it tells you who you love.”

I try to imagine being CJ’s mother, raising a boy who wants to be a girl and probably doesn’t yet know his sexuality. And at the very moment I imagine being CJ’s mother, I can’t imagine wanting anything for him except all the love and respect in the world. I don’t even know CJ. But after reading about him for a few months, I still want all the love and respect in the world for him, whether he grows up to be gay or not.

Isn’t that what we all want?

It’s what I want. It’s what I believe Matthew Shepard wanted and Tyler Clementi wanted. I bet it’s what Dan Cathy wants.

And instead of talking about ways to grow love and share it all around, we’re bellowing and sniping and posturing and pronouncing our way to a world where CJ and his family has to duck and cover.

Did the entertainment on Facebook yesterday feel worth it to you? It didn’t to me. And that is why I stopped commenting and started thinking.

With gratitude {for love, in whatever small doses it is shared, anywhere it is shared, among friends or strangers},

Joan, who takes friendship seriously, apologizes if she has seemed condescending to any of her friends, and invites respectful comments from all viewpoints toward the goal of greater understanding

#greatshot

Dear friends,

I’m one of the those parents who brags about my kids on Facebook. If this annoys you, I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. Consider it a symptom of an almost empty-nester. Maybe I’ll lay off for a few years after Parker moves out, but I’m sure I’ll be a prolific grandparent bragger as soon as the opportunity presents itself. (But please, opportunity, don’t present yourself too soon.)

The good news is I am friendly to other braggy parents and grandparents. I never get annoyed and I almost always leave “Great job!” and “Congratulations!” comments on other parents’ posts. (And I’m not just trolling for compliments. I truly enjoy reading about the accomplishments of my friends’ children and I consider it my civic duty to spread the love on Facebook.)

Anyway, my point today is to level the score between my children. I’ve done an awful lot of bragging about Kate, what with her being a senior and going off to college to play tennis. But I have another tennis player in the house and fair play dictates I give Parker a bloggy shout-out.

I just got his tennis photos back from the photographer. Parker’s wearing his game face rather than the smile I would have preferred, but I suppose that’s what boys do.

Yesterday, Parker’s team won the first round of competition in their district tournament. Parker lost his singles match, but he and his partner won their dubs match handily. I took the day off so I could spectate and be a mother, which included making sandwiches for the team and tweeting about Parker’s four aces.

Did I mention I also brag on Twitter? If you can’t use social media for self-and/or-family-promotion, what’s the point? I mean really?

Besides, there was hardly anybody there to witness the match so I had to tweet about it. (As did Kate.)

The sole spectator is me. Despite the loneliness of being a high school tennis fan in this part of the country, new media has helped create a virtual crowd. (At least three likes on my “fourth ace” Facebook post seemed like a crowd.)

School will be out soon and I promise to move on to other topics besides my kids. #ormaybenot

With gratitude {for a Monday better than most},

Joan, an equal opportunity gasbag, braggart, blatherskite, boaster, windbag, bigmouth (and Thesaurus-lover)

For two interesting views on Facebook bragging, read this post by Yoonanimous and this post by Glennon Melton. Yoona made me laugh (and think Oh God, I do that!) and Glennon made me pause (and think Oh God, I do that!).

Mega-play, baby!

Dear friends,

Did you buy a lottery ticket last night?

For the record, that's Mr. Mom's thumb, not mine.

Did you win, because if you did, it’s customary to pay a generous dividend to your favorite blogger. And I know I’m your favorite, so the matter is settled isn’t it?

You know how I found out about the Mega-Millions? Facebook. (Probably like everybody else. Or everybody else who wasn’t reading the Huff Post.) There was so much chatter, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to become fabulously wealthy — even if the opportunity was only one in a Mega-Million.

My friend Doug posted this: I sometimes buy lottery tickets when the jackpot hits $175 million, because at that point, at least, my $1 pick is statistically justifiable, leaving the entertainment value as a “free” benefit.

Mr. Mom and I don’t play often, but when we do, we have lots of fun with our “free benefit,” imagining the great things we would do with our millions — like pay off the mortgages of our family and friends.We always say for the average person (and we are totally average), paying off a mortgage would be life changing. While we’re on the topic, anybody want to change my life? I have two mortgages since our home in Oklahoma hasn’t sold yet. Paying off even one of them would sure change things around here.

My friend Elizabeth posted this: In line at Safeway Customer Service, the man in front of me, who was sucking down deep fried chicken blobs, purchased $500.00 of Powerball tickets. For real. FIVE hundred. #somethingaintright.

I felt a little guilty about spending $10 on our tickets. I can’t imagine laying down $500 on a fantasy. My dad’s a gambler from way back, but I sure didn’t inherit that gene. Go big or go home, they say. Guess who’s at home?

The best comment all night was from my friend Caroline, who posted this: (Caroline) amuses herself reading “what I would do if I won the MegaMillions lottery” posts, knowing that she would spend a substantial amount on math enrichment classes for everyone — and emphasize statistics and probability.

She’s always the voice of reason among my Facebook friends. (And lord knows, every Facebook circle needs a voice of reason.)

Since Mr. Mom and I didn’t win, I’ll have to spend today grateful for the money in our pockets provided by our own hands — which in this economy or any other is surely a blessing.

With gratitude {for something less than mega money, but which sustains us nonetheless},

Joan, who at age 18 pocketed the $40 her father gave her to spend at the track because, you know, that’s a pair of new shoes and who cares about horse races with $40 in your purse?