By Rick Fromm
By Rick Fromm

   I’m not a huge social media devotee, but I dabble to be sure. I don’t have a Facebook page account, but I’m certainly aware of what’s going on and keep close track of the posts I can relate to.

I guess they call that a Facebook “creeper.” So be it – I’ve been called creepy a time or three before. Doesn’t really faze me.

The more up-to-date social-media phenomena still leave me coughing in the dust, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually. You know, about the time new technology makes what I’ve just learned obsolete. And so it goes.

By and large, what I discover in my Facebook roamings is happy news: a baby enters the world; a child has a golden birthday; a couple gets engaged; someone lands a lunker largemouth; a young person graduates high school or college or eighth grade; a music/speech student takes home a prestigious honor; a retirement ceremony is held for a deserving employee; a new puppy is purchased; a tooth is lost; vacation destinations are shared; and so on and so forth – you get the idea.

Basically, it’s all good news that informs other Facebook friends about life and how things are going. As one who genuinely enjoys home movies and photographs (do photographs still exist?), I get a kick out of seeing “Wassup” with people who have been part of my life – in even the slightest way.

As Martha the Magnificent would say, “It’s a good thing … a very good thing.”

On the flip side of all that warm-and-fuzzy Facebook news are those who use the forum to promote his or her own political agenda and feel free to cast it about to their Facebook friends who they mistakenly assume give a rat’s patute about their political and societal views. NEWS FLASH! No one cares and most of the time it makes you look dumb and ill-informed.

However, the most disturbing trend I’ve picked up on Facebook recently – and I know I’m late to this profound revelation – is the willingness for people to be mean spirited. Downright spiteful -- if not just hateful.

I’m aware this has been a Facebook feature(?) since the get go, but remember I’m new to the game and can be a bit slow out of the blocks at times. Nonetheless, it’s extremely disturbing to this old ink-stained wretch.

Why must there be such vitriol? What is the purpose exactly? Is it, in some twisted way, an attempt to make a person feel better by making someone else feel bad? (How’s that for some dime-store psychology – thanks Luther.)

My kind, gentle father, who is now enjoying his retirement from the physical world, would say, “Rick, if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” He lived those words remarkably well. Me? I try …

But I digress. To return to the point, the fact that some narrow-minded folks use social media to espouse hate and mistrust is downright despicable and totally uncalled for. Shame on you.

A recent incident really drove this point home to me last week. It was brought to my attention that Jeni Grouws of KDEC Radio fame, and also a cherished local entertainer, has been getting hateful, profane-riddled comments about her character and personality on her Facebook page.

It was obvious from Ms. Grouws’ tone she was quite upset, frustrated and just physically and mentally worn out by this ridiculous and hurtful problem she has been dealing with for quite some time now. Is it stalking or over-the-top harassment? Law enforcement will have to sort that out. I’ve got an opinion, but I don’t think it counts (Can you say bullying?)

Unfortunately, this is the ugly side of social media. Hard to understand why it has to be that way, but I suppose it will always be so. As Bruce Springsteen might put it, “I guess there’s just a certain meanness in this world.”

But picking on Jeni Grouws? I mean just how low can you go? Time to reboot the brain, pal. From what I can discern, David and Jeni Grouws and their three daughters, Sofie, Lillian and Ella, have been nothing shy of a stellar addition to this community since arriving a few years back.

They volunteer their time to assist others, help spread cheer, goodwill and seem totally committed to making sure Decorah, Winneshiek County and the area remain a great place to live and enjoy life.

They are a fine asset to this entire community. So  leave them alone, you jerk.

Facebook should be a venue for good news. Not hate.