Face it. (See what I did, there?) I’m hardly on Facebook, anymore. I’ve opened and closed various accounts and public pages since 2008 or ’09.
I’ve used Facebook as a means by which to connect, to reconnect, to share, to blog, to network, to promote, to update, to advocate, etc.
It used to surprise me how sensitive folks can be to a post; myself included. Since I’ve mostly detached from all social media, what’s been more surprising is a sensitivity to my inactivity.
On July 5th (of this year) I received the following message from someone I haven’t seen, heard from or interacted with personally in any way for 9 years.
I appreciate you dropping me as a friend. Thanks for tainting my good memories on what kind of person you must be. Hope you have a great life. Real shitty dude. Real NOT COOL and shitty. Thank you for letting me know what you think about me, you know without saying a thing. (You could have had some balls and let me know what the hell I did to make you not want to ever be connected with me) I will make sure I remove all your pics from my page as well as any nice reviews on you. Wow – SUPER OFFENDED.
I wasn’t aware this person was connected to me, followed me or had any opinion of me. That’s her point. And it’s mine.
My “friends” list topped 2,000 at some point. That’s absolutely impossible to personally (meaning, “in a personal way”) manage and because I have to stay tethered to Facebook for parental, business and other 21st Century, post-modern purposes, my goal is to limit my personal, private account to family. That’s all, folks. Nothing sinister.
Most of us grew up without any of this. How did we survive? Nobody prepared us for this. Facebook, for me, has become more of a stress and worry about what I don’t do vs. what I do; a chess move with game-changing consequences I fail to predict. Did I forget to post an impersonal “Happy Birthday” on someone’s wall that I’ve never met? Did I “like” that picture of someone’s half-eaten breakfast? Did I “tag” enough people in a “Cucumber Scares Cat” YouTube video? 374 unanswered “pokes.”
Perception isn’t something anyone has ever been able to control and social media doesn’t help. All of this has enabled us to insulate and produce ourselves in a virtual reality show that validates our own ideology and disengages us from those who challenge it. It’s made the world a smaller place, but it’s also made the world a much more polarized one. It allows us to reach more, but permits us to invest less in others.
I begin with, “I believe” because I’ve learned the hard way that some folks will fail to recognize I acknowledge the subjectivity in all of this. I get it. So, I believe tagging yourself in a selfie at a Trump or Clinton protest doesn’t do as much for your sincerity as surrendering any desire for relevance when supporting a cause or a friend. If I had to choose another reason for avoiding Facebook, then I’ve little patience for self-indulgent, disingenuous, at-arms-length (at social-media’s-length) activism. How many times have you changed your profile picture in solidarity? I have. That’s not a bad thing. Now, how many times have you compromised, risked or even forfeited your own interests for a friend or a cause?
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.Harry Truman
I believe folks who exclaim, “I don’t care what people think!” are disingenuous and irresponsible. We should care what people think. It governs our sensibility. “What people think” can’t rule our lives, but I believe it separates the thoughtful from the thoughtless. I care very much that the person who sent me that message perceives a choice I made about social media and my privacy as a negative reaction to her in any way, shape or form. I wasn’t given an opportunity to respond. She sent the message and then blocked me. I still made an effort to contact her. I believe challenging someone without rising to that challenge is counter-intuitive. Facebook has allowed us to exploit one another, to hold each other hostage with expectations unbeknownst to those we’re digitally connected to; disappointed in how you’re portraying a role in someone’s world you’re unaware you’re playing a part in!
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Life?s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I’m the biggest mouthpiece for the idea that inaction speaks louder than words. This isn’t that. You can be a voice or make a choice that says, “This is not okay.” How many times have you said that? How many times have you said it out-loud? How many times have you said it to an actual human being or THE human being responsible or those who allow whatever “this” is to be okay? How many times have you stuck around for a response?
Like anything, we can all choose to be productive or destructive with these wonderful toys. The time-wasting, passive-aggressiveness and the weaponizing of Facebook and other social media isn’t something I want to participate in. It’s hurt the relationships in my life and those around me more than it’s helped. I’m drawing this line in an effort to erase one. I don’t believe social media should be the only means by which to cultivate relationships. Considering I survived 34 years of my life without Facebook, I think I’ll survive a few more.
My arts and business pages are out there for anyone who wishes to keep up with any of that. My website hasn’t changed since 1999 and has always been the main source of sharing what I do (meaning, “for a living”).
If you’d like to keep up with me personally, please do… personally. I would say, “Facebook is too easy,” but doing less with Facebook has proven just as provocative. So… a needle pulling thread.