My name is Robin Wallace. I am a 55-year-old college professor, and I have spent far too much time on Facebook over the last few years avoiding other tasks. As of this writing, I have 504 "friends" there, which is 3 fewer than I had a week ago. They include people I know from every previous stage of my life, as far back as kindergarten. They also include a large number of former students, and a few present ones who have specifically invited me, since I make it a policy not to send a friend invitation to anyone who is or might become a student. They also include people I have never met, but have encountered on blogs dealing with topics of mutual interest In fact, I conduct private Facebook message discussions daily with a growing number of people whom I have come to consider my spiritual friends: the people I "know with." They have become invaluable to me.
What we have in common is that we are oddballs in today's political and cultural environment; we are liberal Christians. That is so much of an oddity, in fact, that I currently describe my religion on my Facebook status page as "not that kind of Christian." Most people probably understand what I mean. I take my religious faith very seriously, since it probably saved my life (more on that another time). However, not having been brought up in a religious culture (I am half lapsed Catholic, half Ethical Culture Jew), I don't experience religion as a cultural thing. Since the dominant religious culture in America right now is conservative, I find myself on the opposite side of most political issues from the Christian Coalition and Focus on the Family. That's why it's good to have a group of like-minded people to remind me that I'm not alone.
What's happened over the past year is that these "stealth" discussions have occasionally erupted visibly onto my Facebook wall. I have written passionate comments there on health care, on the bullying epidemic (a particular concern of mine), on climate change and, most recently, on my extreme ideological differences with the current Republican majority in Congress. Most of these notes have been greeted with favorable comments by my friends who agree with me and ignored by those who don't.
Unfortunately, though, there have been a few times when one of my "friends" has decided to take violent exception to something I've said. This happened three times in the past week: hence the attrition in my friends list that I described above. This has made me realize that social media may not be the best place to share unpopular opinions publicly. So I have set up this blog instead, where I can post all my ideas that aren't ready for Facebook. I plan to link my posts, so those who want to read them will know they're here and available. However, I will ask everybody to please comment here (yes, I know I just split an infinitive) instead of there. That doesn't mean that I'm granting permission to violate my Facebook "rules," which still require that all posters be civil and respectful. You may express any opinion you want here, but don't diss me or my friends or you're toast. Is that clear?
OK, watch this space for occasional future updates. My schedule, my rules.