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Life's Little Lessons

I have all manner of friends on Facebook: Heroes flaunting their facility to run three miles, wash four loads of clothes, leap a tall building in a single bound and clean out the coat closet before 9 a.m., with a baby on the hip; blunderers falling prey to hackers who take over their accounts and send out viral links to all the blunderers' friends; gaffers posting personal information, inappropriate comments, insults to their employers and invectives about their in-laws (by the way, Facebook is NOT private); monologuers carrying on conversations with themselves.

Newscasters, networkers, politicians, self-promoters and proud parents post. Pollyannas and pooh-poohers post. We're all somebody on Facebook.

Motivators post inspiring quotes meant to coax us out of our Facebook mire and back into real-world interactions that make a real difference in the real lives of real people. They set their status to eloquent words such as, The future depends on what we do in the present (Mahatma Ghandi), or You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore (Christopher Columbus), or The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything (Theodore Roosevelt).

For the benefit of the Facebook community, I feel called to keep the motivators in line and on track. When one of my "friends" posted You can overcome anything if you don't bellyache (Bernard M. Baruch), duty moved me to point out that bellyaching's upside is bringing people together under the flag of a common cause. Bellyaching is how many movements for change get started or, equally important, stopped.

Besides that, my friend needed to be warned about his willy-nilly endorsement the elocution of such a radical character as this Baruch guy, a multi-millionaire who during WWII advocated abolishment of free enterprise, federal control of the nation's economy and subjugation of the population by the government.

Then I scrolled across another nugget meant to energize me to action: There is nothing impossible to him who will try (Alexander the Great). I am not knocking effort in its raw form. It sure gets the tires turning in a muddy ditch.

Hard as I might try, I will never be an NBA player; I will never flap my arms and fly. Some things really are impossible and to try is a waste of valuable time and energy.

Knowing where to direct our hard work is balanced by knowing when to call it a day, something Alexander the Great didn't grasp. Driven to reach the ends of the earth and the great outer sea, he pushed his troops to near mutiny when he invaded India in 326 B.C. Alexander failed because he tried too hard.

Of course, I shared these thoughts with my "friend," who said, "Sure wish you'd just keep your opinions to yourself. I mean who asked you to weigh in anyway? That's the kind of crap I'm talking about."

I responded, "This is the voice of your social network. It is always entitled to express its opinion."

I might be unfriended, but I'm also undaunted, and just like you, I'm somebody on Facebook.

(Lucy Adams is the author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. E-mail Lucy at

Web posted on Thursday, November 04, 2010

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