Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Freemasonry And The Pitfalls Of Social Media
I've got a lot of friends on Facebook, and a lot of them are Masons--if you look through my friends list, you'll see a lot of the profile pictures are of men wearing fezzes, Scottish Rite Caps, and fedoras. I also get invited to join a lot of Masonic groups (both open and closed). It's amazing just how many Masonic groups are out there now--there wasn't a huge "Masonic presence" on the internet back when I first began writing, and that wasn't so long ago. But there certainly is now. Always the industrious Freemason, we're everywhere! Facebook. Twitter. Blogger. Tumblr. Wordpress. Instagram. Pinterest. You name it, you'll find us there these days.
But I made a choice some time back as far as Facebook is concerned. I don't represent myself as a Mason on Facebook--I don't have a Masonic profile picture, or background. I have in the past, but I haven't for at least a couple years now. It wouldn't be very hard to figure out I'm a Mason just by looking at a few of my pictures, or the fact I mention Masonic events on there so often. The majority of my interactions on Facebook are with friends and they are social in nature, and we get into some interesting and often humorous exchanges. I'm also a political junkie, and it's not unusual for me to post a political opinion (in fact, I do it quite often). It's also pretty common for me to get into a political debate over one of those opinions I've posted--I have a lot of friends that enjoy a good debate as much as I do. But I don't think it's appropriate to post political opinions with a big square and compass as a profile picture. We don't discuss religion and politics in Lodge, so I felt I shouldn't do that on Facebook with a picture of me sitting in the East wearing my Master's hat as a profile picture--as if my opinion is representative of the Fraternity in some way.
And of course, I have a lot of unruly friends, family, and acquaintances--both Masons and not. Every so often one of them will post a comment on my wall that's of questionable taste, or repost something they thought was funny that's right on the edge. And to be perfectly honest, most people that know me know I'm kind of obnoxious--I'm rarely a serious person and I enjoy sharing a laugh. However, one thing I do take seriously is my affliation with Masonry, and I just didn't want anybody getting the wrong idea that my Fraternity is as unserious as I can be.
And there was another reason I made this change--it's the same reason I've dropped being a member of a few of these online Masonic forums and Facebook groups I've been invited to join. The Internet is not a tyled lodge, and shouldn't be treated as such. There is no way to know if everyone in a group is truly a Master Mason, and I've seen a lot of conversations in both open and closed groups that shouldn't be going on in that forum. Masons should be using better judgement when it comes to starting discussions on the Internet that violate their obligations as a Master Mason, or participating in one.
We're Americans, and we have the right to free speech, but if you're going to represent yourself as a Mason to the world in your profile picture on Facebook and elsewhere, perhaps you should consider the topics you're discussing, the language you're using, and the things you're reposting on Facebook that could very well reflect badly on the Fraternity we all respect.
Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014. You can contact Todd E. Creason at: firstname.lastname@example.org