Sometime today or tomorrow, I will deactivate my personal facebook page. I have tried to tame this monster, really I have. First I trimmed the number of friends I had from 1500 to 500. Back in the early days, I used to just accept friend requests from strangers, because I assumed they were sending them because of Michaela. But it turns out that wasn’t true, and I ended up with an audience of strangers. I had tried to whittle it down a number of times, but one night not too long ago, I just went through my friends list and hit delete delete delete. I ended up deleting people I shouldn’t have, and somehow ended up keeping people who should have gone. It was haphazard and ultimately didn’t achieve what I wanted.
Having this vast audience has had a couple of negative impacts on me. First of all, it made it difficult to be myself. I’m sure there are people who would think I didn’t care, but when I posted on my facebook, I’d have a mental list running through my brain of who would be offended by what. Glennon Doyle once responded to someone who had asked advice about faith that she was probably not the best person to ask, because she was too Christian for the heathens and too heathen for the Christians. I’m not sure those are the words she used, but that’s the gist. I often felt that pressure from the differing groups of my friends.
There was one area, however, about which I didn’t care who was offended. I’m sure that many people would call it “politics,” but politics is only an arena in which it played out. I believe in giving. My old facebook had a cover picture of Jimmy Carter with the quote, “If you don’t want your tax dollars to go to the poor, then don’t pretend you want a nation founded on Christian values, because you don’t.” This, to me, sums it up in a nutshell. I want a government that is based on kindness, and consideration of the welfare of every individual in this country.
The political climate in this country at this time, however, is poisonous. I know that there are people out there who think all sorts of things, but I don’t want to see it over my morning coffee, and above all I don’t want to argue about it. Really, I don’t. Once I pegged someone in my newsfeed as a person who regularly posted political unkindness, I unfollowed them, or deleted them. I had friends with whom I was in agreement, who happened to have friends who were political jerks, and I actually blocked those people so I could read my friends’ posts without having to see their nastiness, all so I would not feel a compulsion to respond to it.
Because I do feel a compulsion to respond. And I’m not going to lie about it, I have some skills with words. I was a paralegal by trade. It was my job to write legal briefs and motions intended to slice and dice the argument of the other side. And I do have a real gift for sarcasm. No, actually it’s a curse. I’m going to try to do better, really. So I’m not going to say I am completely blameless, BUT …
What started to happen pretty consistently was that people I engaged in political discussions inevitably sank into personal attacks pretty quickly. Most of these people were actually friends of friends. They didn’t know me. They didn’t know anything about me. In one case, I responded to a (now unfriended) friend, who had posted that people shouldn’t be whining about losing their $600 unemployment (because after all, she had to work, so why should they get money to not work). She had also worked out a budget for those people who were getting unemployment, and according to her, they should have been able to save up enough of that money to get through the pandemic. This disturbed me. I pointed out that she could not know what other people’s situations were, and gave the example of the San Francisco Bay Area, where rent alone can easily be more than $2,400 a month for a modest place! You can’t rent a single room there for $1,000.
So in response, someone I don’t know told me that nobody was forcing me to live in the Bay Area, and that I needed to learn to live within my means. Perhaps it never occurred to them that anybody would say people should be able to get $600 a week unemployment if it was on behalf of other people only. Nobody in my household had received unemployment. It wasn’t about me. Nor did I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I told them that, and said that they should be happy that they have jobs, but that we shouldn’t look in another person’s bowl unless it was to make sure they have enough. It started getting really nasty after that. I turned off notifications for the conversation and deleted the original poster from my friends. Next thing I know, I get a message from her, telling me that what I said to her and her friend was mean and hateful, that I am just a hateful person, and I don’t have a life (why do people say that anyway, and what does it mean?). Well, I guess I was implying that they were selfish and uncaring, but hey, they were, and they were being mean and hateful. The woman, who is a “good Christian” told me that she was never going to pray for me again, and then wound up the conversation by saying that if Michaela happened to be alive, she would never want to come home because I am so awful.
Now, mind you, this was because I am of the good old liberal mindset of actually helping others. I’ve been poor. I’ve been in need. I have always had someone to stick a net under me, but not everyone does. I know the feeling of not having enough, and I know the sweet relief when help comes. I want nobody in this country to feel that fear and anxiety over whether they would be able to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and to obtain medical care. And if I could I would fly overhead in a plane and drop the softest, sweetest bundles of relief on the heads of all who need it, and I wouldn’t even care if it costs more for them to have what they need than it costs me to have what I need. From each according to his ability; to each according to his need. I actually think that this is how Christians are supposed to feel. In fact, I know it is, because I actually read the Bible.
But for someone to go so very low as to bring my missing daughter into it, to actually purposely try to hurt me through her…. Well, that’s just depraved. And yes, it is hurtful, very hurtful, to have the deepest of my sorrows used as a weapon against me.
A couple of days ago, I was watching a streaming video of a protest and a comment went past that said, “I can smell the BO from here.” There were a lot of terrible comments that would have opened up huge discussions, and I actually turned off the commenting so I wouldn’t have to deal with them, but first I responded to this guy with a comment that he should put on some deodorant. And yada yada, he called me a few names, and I told him he wasn’t very smart (he wasn’t), and I commented on the fact that it seems that these days you can’t address a single issue (with either the far right OR the far left, by the way) without getting personal attacks, even though the attackers invariably knows nothing about you. So this guy took it upon himself to make sure that he didn’t do that. He looked at my profile, and came back with a comment that wouldn’t it be ironic if right after I commented on his post my cancer came back with a vengeance (well, too late, cause that ship has sailed dude), and then just as I hit my deathbed my missing daughter calls me to tell me that she ran away from me, because something about being a #posmom or some such thing. (Again, a lack of research because Michaela was definitely not a runaway!)
These are just two extremes of the kind of stuff that has been hurled in facebook posts. Just nastiness everywhere. I posted on something about mail in ballots that you should put two stamps on your ballot so the post office will treat it like first class mail instead of bulk mail, and added that I had heard this, but that I didn’t actually know that it was true. And I got a comment back about dead animals and rotting food piling up in post offices, and mail getting eaten by rats, with a sarcastic, “but you think that saying to put two stamps on it will solve the problem.” I think the commenter had a better edge on her sarcasm, but I spotted it, and I recognized, and I realized that yep, this was the way we were all talking to each other these days, even with people we are basically in agreement with! The world is in such a terrible state! Everybody is pissed off, and they are all taking it out on anyone who comes near them. And yes, that includes me.
So the long and short of it is that I can no longer deal with this stuff. For not one but two people to actually resort to using Michaela to hurt me, well, that is unforgivable. That is something I cannot allow.
And so I am going to deactivate my Facebook page. I have posted that I am going to do this, and as I have gone through comments and posts I have seen so many people that I really like, that I really enjoy, who I love, whose posts I enjoy reading, and it makes me sad, because I will miss them.
But then I think of all the benefits to getting off this mega facebook wheel. Really, it takes up way too much time. In addition to people, I follow people and pages, and there is just so much information, and so much to discuss, and there is not a minute of the day when there is not something new. Without that distraction, what might I accomplish? I might actually get through this pile of books I have to read! I might even get some writing done. I will probably largely replace my ongoing chitchat on facebook with periodic missives here, on my blog. I’ll let you all know how things are going, how my cancer is, how I am surviving here in my new state, and what happens when I am able to break out of this covid + chemo cocoon. I will give you my heart, in its fullness and brokenness, because that is essentially what I do. And best of all, instead of leaving comments on my Facebook posts, which are here today and gone tomorrow, you can leave the comments here and we can talk here, where they will live forever, or at least as long as I keep paying the annual fees to keep this website! For those interested, I am also on instagram, @seekersroad. I have posted very little on instagram over the years because I am more likely to want to post links than photos, and instagram just suck at that! But I am there.
And not least, moving away from the facebook frenzy will give me an opportunity to hear my own thoughts. I’m kind of an input addict. My mind does not to be left to itself. It wants something going into it, from the internet, from the TV, from books. Who knows what is there in the terrifying silence? Maybe it’s time to find out. I have found for awhile that my sleep is disturbed by the presence of too many people and too much stuff going on around me in my dreams. Maybe if I get away from the busy-ness of the internet, and the news, those crowds will go away, and my sleep will be more peaceful.
Peace, really, is what I want, and a return to joy.
I’m going to post this on my facebook page in a few minutes, and I’m going to allow a little while for people to be able to see it before I press the button. Somewhere on this page there is a little box you can click to subscribe to this blog so you will get notifications if I post anything. I may reactivate my facebook from time to time out of curiosity, but I’m thinking not so much, so I won’t be posting there when I post a new blog.
Thank you to all of you who have given me so much support. I was just thinking last week of tossing the whole darn thing in and crawling into a shell, but a couple of people happened to send me messages telling me that my words made a difference in their lives. I actually believe that I am here in this world for a reason (as are you), and I actually want to fulfill the purposes God has for me, even if it is only for a single human being. But I have to draw back a bit. I have to tame myself a bit, and I have to withdraw from the battlegrounds. It is a valuable thing to fight for justice, and I actually once thought that posting on facebook was a contribution to that fight. But I am not called to the free for all that is raging there these days. It damages me, and does nothing good for anyone else.
So, peace and love everybody. Make no mistake about it, I think the foundations of our democracy and our morality are at stake in the upcoming election. I hope you take it all to heart, and vote like lives depend on it. Mine does. Let’s vote to love and give and bless one another.