I need a break. Probably a rather long one.
When I first started hanging out with you several years ago, you were really cool. Catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen in ages was amazing! I loved seeing their families and hearing their news. It was lovely to be able to connect with people who lived too far away to visit. It was beautiful to see the lives of more people than I could ever hope to keep up with through phone calls and coffee dates. I even thought the dippy games were pretty awesome.
But then you changed.
I began to see an ugly side of you. A side that bullies and shames and instigates. A side I want nothing to do with.
And that side keeps growing and strengthening like some sort of mythological beast, and I have no space in my life for creatures who wish to consume my soul with anger and hate.
I know this isn’t the trendy thing to say right now, but I actually liked seeing the pictures of new babies and beloved dogs and frisky cats and dance recitals and basketball games and family holidays. I don’t find it bothersome to see people put their best, happiest face forward. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with focusing on the positive.
I like knowing that people have happiness in their lives.
I do also want to know when sorrow or hardship has befallen a friend. How can I possibly help or sympathize or listen if I don’t even know something is happening?
But that is not what you give me anymore, Facebook.
Well, not much anyway.
For every picture of a fuzzy puppy, I have to endure political rants and lengthy diatribes.
Political rants that tell me what I “should” be believing, doing, and fighting for.
For every post about a wonderful holiday or vacation, I have to scroll through snarky memes.
Memes that mock people for this, that, or the other…in a rather hateful way.
For every update on a family’s loss, I have to wade through pushy declarations that have been shared from goodness knows where.
Declarations that tell me I’m probably not “brave enough” or “good-hearted” enough to share them further. (And the truth is, even if I agree with a declaration, I won’t share anything that uses those sort of bullying tactics.) Sometimes they even come with a glorious and totally unfounded statistic that states that “98% of people won’t be brave enough to share this on their own page” or some such nonsense, and my very essence weeps.
For every post about ball games and recitals and trips to the zoo, I am bombarded with other people’s religious, political, and social beliefs…and why I am dumb, uneducated, immoral, and/or naive if I don’t agree.
I am actually none of those things. And I have absolutely no problem learning about someone’s beliefs and views (if I agree with them or not), but I’m not particularly keen on being insulted for disagreeing. And being preemptively insulted for not agreeing? I think that’s taking things down a very uncivilized and frightening path.
And speaking of insults…
There is no longer any room for open discussion of topics. Even topics that used to be considered pretty benign. It seems that every post breaks out into some sort of insult slinging contest between conservatives and liberals. Regardless of who you vote for, I am unimpressed if all you have to offer is rude behavior, foul language, and stubborn resistance to dialogue.
When did the world decide that well reasoned opinions, responses, and ideas were too much trouble? When did it become productive in any way to call people names and insult people’s intelligence for simply holding a different point of view?
More importantly, why am I still encouraging this in my own life? No, I don’t hurl insults, but the very fact that I continue to partake in your madness, Facebook, makes me culpable to some degree because I am providing an audience. In a weird way, I feel like I am voting “yes” to all of this just by showing up.
I’ve tried the method of not adding to the madness. I’ve tried only posting positive things and refusing to engage in arguments and avoiding the hate. But I don’t think it’s enough. I think I need to step back and remove myself from the nastiness. To be honest, I’ve recently found myself tempted to walk down this dark path with you, Facebook. And that lets me know with all certainty that it’s time to take a break. It’s time to avoid the influence of so many loud and angry voices.
To those of you who are Facebook friends with me personally, you won’t see me around much for a while. The Nerd in the Brain Facebook page does not seem to be plagued with the same problems, so, for now, I’ll still be partying over there. ;)
So, what about you? Have you ever found Facebook (or any social media) taking you down a road you weren’t comfortable with? If so, how did you handle it? Do you unfriend/unfollow people who offend? (Not my favorite method of dealing with things, but I know it works for others.)