I’ve recently returned to Facebook after several months of having deactivated my account. When I reactivated I posted on my timeline that I wouldn’t be reviewing it very often so I didn’t know if or when I would read or respond to any postings, I guess I would to keep my foot over the threshold without actually entering the room. I really want to keep and maintain a Facebook account but I hate the site or app or whatever the thing is called. Prior to deactivating my account I had really slowed up in reviewing my profile and postings to my page. I realized that almost everyone that were on my “friend’s list” weren’t actually friends, more like acquaintances and a few distant relatives. As a result of my realization I removed almost all of my “friends” and pretty much just limited my contacts to those few family members that are still alive or with whom I still socialize (at least online). So as part of my recent return, or reactivation, I’ve started adding back a lot of those so-called friends (ahem – acquaintances) again but I just not sure I want to go back to using Facebook anymore, for one thing I am just not as interested as much as I used to be, this recent hiatus definitely helped put the importance of check my daily posts in perspective, but mostly my ire towards the site in not the concept of the site but how people conduct themselves and I am not excluded from the poor conduct of which I’m speaking.
It drives me crazy the bickering that goes on, the overblown sensitivity of people just because they misinterpret a posting, how easy it is to over-react to comments so aggressively simply because they don’t share the same point of view (very nasty), and how much animosity the tool can generate, mostly because of the buffer of the keyboard or even the sense that you are not interacting with real people on the receiving end of our posts. As I inferred in the previous paragraph I am not innocent of acting and reacting in the same way that upsets me about the site and its users and that is part of what frustrates me so much, how can I hold others accountable for their immaturity, lack of patience, and anger issues on line when I myself share those same qualities. I have participated in several angry posts so I’m not guiltless and probably have no right standing on this soap box but I think our reactions (mine included) is part of being human and how we would truly conduct ourselves if we didn’t have civility and morality that comes with true human contact and interactions. Its so darn easy to say things to people that you wouldn’t say to them if you were with them in person. Equally of which I’m guilty is “drunk posting”. There is an unwritten rule about NEVER POSTING AFTER DRINKING and it is so true.
So often a post or repost of something regardless of how controversial (i.e. religion, gay marriage, politics, etc.) that one might have found fun, interesting, amusing, or for any other reason they choose to share or re-share can often result in people responding in the most hateful way. I for one tolerate most of the posts that I find offensive, I think to myself “Well that’s their opinion”. When I tend to become defensive or even go on the attack is when I realize that some hateful or nasty comment was directed at me or the meaning behind one of the meme’s I post. People tend to attach these posts to you as part of your personality and instead of commenting negatively on the subject they tend to “kill the messenger”. If I had a penny for every time I’ve seen one of those damned “God loves you” memes or messages I would be a millionaire. I find the whole notion of forcing your religion down my throat obnoxious and repulsive but I never (NEVER!) comment negatively. I simply skip the posting or if it becomes too overwhelming I will unfollow the person making the posts, this way (if I truly even care one iota about the person I can still check them out once in a while or if their “phase” passes I can start following them again. I know that I personally have been unfollowed by many of my (ahem) “friends” because of my numerous political posts and my ever so often pro-atheist posts.
My state recently legalized Gay Marriage and since I’m gay and have been with my partner for 32 years I’m pretty happy about that whole thing, though admittedly at first I really didn’t have any interest in getting married, but the more my partner and I find out or hear about the struggles other gay people are going through because of laws or hateful greedy family members, the more that I think that marriage would be a good thing for us, let me digress further, recently a unit of a lesbian couple I know that have been together for nearly 20 years passed away. The dying woman was a State Police officer and her family was very proud of this fact, however they were very ashamed of their daughter’s lifestyle. Marriage was not yet legal in the state where this female couple resided and the day of the funeral the surviving woman who unfortunately had never been put on the deed of their house or even the car she was driving (I have no idea why this was, whether credit issues by the one or whatever but the point is they chose to maintain their property in this manner. My guess is being in their early 40’s they assumed there was lots of time to deal with this because the lady’s death was unexpected, anyway the family of the dead individual told the survivor on the day of the funeral she had 30 days to vacate the premises and she was to return the car that she was driving on the 30th day as well. The family of the deceased made quite a tidy profit while the life partner ended up losing everything she has worked for with her partner simply because they weren’t permitted to be married (and stupidity for not having a will or other arrangements).
Okay, back to the original digression which I promise has a point. With our newly acquired rights my partner (who was more excited than I about the marriage concept) went to the courthouse and got us a wedding certificate and despite not knowing when we would go through with actually getting married he proudly posted this acquisition on Facebook. The next morning there were many congratulatory postings but there was at least one posting from someone that he thought was a friend that said “This is fucking gross, why did I have to wake up to this disgusting shit on my profile”. My partner, very upset that anyone with whom he would associate with could react in such a way, told her that she wouldn’t have to worry about any future postings and deleted her from his friends. In this case he didn’t go back and forth with her over her reaction, he simply ended things (which is probably the most mature was to handle such situations) Why would anyone that is even remotely a “friend” respond to something as innocent as posting news about the prospect of two people being legally united in such a hateful way, her comments emphasized by nasty language, too offensive (note I underlined her quotes) for the hundreds of thousands of children that look at Facebook? Why didn’t she simply ignore it? Delete it? I mean even if she was “grossed out” why didn’t she respect the relationship she had with my partner and regardless of how disgusted she might have felt about our marriage just kept her mouth shut? (My guess is the answer is that she is a “good and loving Christian” because they tend to be the most hateful judgmental not deserving of the God they worship type people.) She could have privately emailed my partner and said “Even though we are friends I want you to know that religiously I object to your marriage” or something to that affect but to spew the “F-bomb” and other expletives just because she disagreed was totally uncalled for and out of line.
I am an atheist and as I mentioned above I am frequently barraged with praises to the Christian God most of which I just find annoying…(or to put it in terms that the woman I mentioned in the previous paragraph did “This is fucking gross, why did I have to wake up to this disgusting shit on my profile?) but never once did have I ever respond rudely to any of these pro-god postings. Occasionally I will post things related to atheism but never at nausea like some of my Facebook friends whom I know for a fact never step foot in a church or for that matter can be, in terms of the bibles teachings, the most sinful and hypocritical of people. One day my niece asked me why I “always” posted hateful things about God. I was shocked and responded that what I post is hardly hateful, my posts are generally facts or quotes, but my niece having been raised in the Bible Belt felt that my random and truly occasional posts which simply point out the logic of atheism were “constant” attacks on her creator (YAWN). Then from nowhere, feeling like she had to chime in my cousin’s daughter, a distant family member who was more an acquaintance than family, born, raised, and still living in Georgia agreed with my niece but went a bit farther telling me that she didn’t “believe” in Gays but never shared her non-belief the way I shared my non-belief in god…(She my friends is an IDIOT!) the only way I knew how to respond to the stupidity of her comment (ironically) was “OMG!”. I told her that I received anywhere from and up to 50 or more God referencing posts per day and my one or two atheist posts per week were hardly worth turning this into a personal attack (personal because again, I am gay, she was turning an innocent posts, my opinions, into a slap in my face because I’m gay… well I could play tit-for-tat… “I never commented about your “interracial” marriage (she is married to an African-American) and let me clarify I have not problem with this but there are a lot of people who do and sit in judgment of her lifestyle to be married to a person of another race but do I throw this is in her face when she posts about her “loving” God? NO!). I should have been like my husband had been with the woman that was disgusted by our marriage certificate and simply un-friended her but instead I asked her “What do you mean you don’t believe in Gays? We are real, we are here and we can prove that we can exist…can your imaginary God prove he’s real?” I guess her response was to take the high road that I should have taken, she deleted me as a friend. But honestly I didn’t mean to make a family member “disown” me just because I shared “my belief” or lack of belief with the world. It seems to me that sharing who you are and your beliefs is supposed to be an important part of the Facebook experience. But apparently its only acceptable if your thoughts and beliefs agree with the thought and beliefs of others, but I do find the most hateful and judgmental of people are generally Christians.
Now recently someone I am having personal issues with a person that are not Facebook related but resulted in their referring to me as a SNAKE in a Facebook post and my response (I was drinking when I responded…Remember “NEVER POST DRUNK”) led to my losing several “friends” but then to add insult to injury in an indirect way my new “status” of being the bad guy resulted in my being banned by a social group… a real life Gay and Lesbian social group that was not even associated with any of the mess that was going on… but that’s another story that deserves its own posting… I was not right, the way I responded, but I was not wrong either but apparently the leader of this “new” social group structured after and usurped from a group that I had created and been leading some 6 years prior felt that not just me but my partner too (he was banned as well) were a threat or something to the existence of his new group. This will be made clear to you when I post that story. But the thing is that had the person that called me a SNAKE publicly did so to over 400 people and had he not made the comment (BTW he was drunk posting when he did it), then I certainly would not have responded the way I did.
I really can’t blame Facebook for these things because in all of these examples I’ve given you can see that its the response of the people that led to the resulting animosity, nothing anything done by Facebook but its Facebook’s existence that causes so much strife and issues not just between individuals and family members, but communities, nations, religions, and lets face it, the whole world. (I guess we can blame Twitter too)
During the months my profile was deactivated and even later I found through discussions and online readings many people have had similar experiences I have had so this is not unique to me (thank goodness). All you have to do is watch a few episodes of Judge Judy or Judge Mathis and you are sure to see a case involving Facebook posts. I guess the biggest lesson from all this is when someone posts something (aside from not being drunk when you respond) is to shut down Facebook and walk away for a bit, consider how and why they just said or did what they did and then consider whether its worth losing a friendship over.