I decided to get off of Facebook in January. I thought about it for most of 2019, if not all of it. For the time prior, I had subscribed to the oft repeated mantra that it was a “necessary evil”, especially for networking and keeping in touch.
It was not an easy decision but a smart one. My mother passed away the following month. We we thrown into a pandemic a few weeks later. Riots occurred not long after that. Excising myself from the myriad of opinions, memes, debates, vitriol and uncomfortable (yet well-meaning) words and emojis of sympathy was not a bad move for my mental health, if nothing else.
Last month, due to starting up two new projects in which Facebook was a main communication vehicle, I reluctantly set up a new profile and went back on. To be honest, it hasn’t been bad in terms of some friends who I have missed that I just wasn’t hearing from otherwise. We are busy. It is an easy way to stay in touch or informed.
However, it didn’t take more than 24 hours to see things, read things, watch things and learn things that I would have been more than happy without. When I was a kid, I had no clue what my neighbors political positions were. I might have an idea of how we may differ religiously or even in terms of interests, but never about politics. Granted, I was younger and didn’t care as much but in comparison to today, my kids are painfully aware of which side of the aisle most of their friends reside.
In speaking with my daughter, she prefers it this way. She has a strong social conscious and has, like me, difficulty, understanding how certain people can seemingly overlook people, tropes, policies or subtleties that flirt with (if not directly promote) racism, sexism, injustice, intolerance or a lack of respect for education, the environmental, diversity and equality. She wants to know who shares these views, or at least, is willing to overlook those who do.
This may be where we differ. There are newly found people on Facebook that, had I never seen a political post, I would just assume to be more “like me”. I want to have friends of different political persuasions and do (though to be honest, not many) but it is getting harder and harder. I don’t know how to square up feelings of connection with someone who so fervently prompts up the people and positions of those I have such strong opposition against. I am not speaking of someone who is of just a different political bent than me. I am talking about people of a different political bent who excitedly and unabashedly root for “the other” as if it’s their football team regardless of pain caused to those who may not agree and impacted. I am beating around the bush here deliberately because I want to focus on issues and not people but you get where I am going. Basically, I want to cover my ears and voice “la la la la la la la la la” until everything is better.
I don’t know what the answer is but the rabbit hole of Facebook is not just a never-ending hole where discovery opens your mind. It does quite the opposite – at least for me. Little did Lewis Carroll know when he wrote ” Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” how true that was. And when it comes to Facebook, none of them good.
That doesn’t mean I’ll be taking a Facebook sabbatical anytime soon. It does mean that it’s up to me and only me, though, to make sure I don’t forget what the Cheshire Cat says to Alice once she arrives down that rabbit hole: “We’re all mad here.”
Until next time,