I went off FB two weeks ago. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t believe what I saw people supporting, posting, and sharing. Daily. I found myself more isolated than ever, stuck in my own thoughts. Do I disagree with my dear friends and risk garnering harsh responses from them? Or do I like a post I agree with and accumulate silent discord from friends who “see” it? Shudder.
As a result, I’ve been toying with completely boycotting FB, but I’m not sold on doing that. Not yet anyway. It’s not all terrible. For instance, I have a fitness FB group I host where many friends of mine are finding accountability and motivation, so I post in there still. For all the negativity being flung through the channel, this is at least one place I can build positive relationships and connection still.
I have become paralyzed in the midst of what have become deeply polarizing politics. And the place I first became paralyzed was on FB. I was unfollowing people left and right, and I was cringing every time there was something to say in response to x, y, or z…and all of this before the Inauguration! Truth is, I know there are decent people on either side of these hot political issues, but all this hostility and character assassination and refusal to listen to each other? It has destroyed me. It has paralyzed me. And now, it has isolated me.
Sigh. But I’m just as guilty, which is in part why I’ve given myself a FB timeout. I found myself pouring over people’s thoughts and thinking “how can he support this?” And “where is she going with this line of reasoning? Does she even know what reasoning is? Or much more specifically, “oh please, oh please stop putting non-experts in charge of important decisions like vaccinations.”
Sigh. Yes, another one. The harshness I both feel and exude has pushed me off FB where I use to feel connected. Where I use to love connecting. Having felt upset just one too many times by what I see on social media, the resulting disconnection led me to unplug. I don’t feel right unfriending every person who I disagree with, but the more and more people have begun to line up along what feel like war lines, the further and further away I have wanted to push them. I’m not on FB to declare a side or to wage a war on a position. Yet, as issues grow more impossible to stay quiet about, I also can’t judge a person for sharing their thoughts either. It’s a real quandary.
What’s more, the paralysis, hypocrisy, and isolation have stretched beyond my currently ignored FB feed and into my personal life with my family and friends. As a person who yearns to reflect on different viewpoints and puzzle ideas out with others, I am suffocating under my self-imposed quarantine to superficiality. Remaining in a safe zone sounds infinitely better than risking outbursts, angry feelings, and upset meals. For now.
So who’s at fault? Is it social media? Is it politics in 2017? No, not directly I don’t think. But together these two, a channel for saying something and messages from politicians, have forced a prism in our midst. This thing sharpens and etches our thoughts into strong black and white lines for all to see. It has become a catalyst for many of us to prove ourselves, and what we think but it hasn’t shown us how to do this in a very compassionate or kind way.
Behind the platform for virtual conversations and behind the closed doors of policy and law makers are the real ones at fault. Us. It’s us who fail to self-reflect. Further, it’s us who only half-engage by posting our “facts” but never entering a real conversation offline. It’s us who isolate each other from others not with opposing viewpoints but with a refusal to listen to anything but our own position.
I look forward to a day when I can find connection with those who agree and disagree with me again. On FB and otherwise. And I’d love if it were to come soon. That being said, I recognize my role and how being on FB has led to my paralysis, hypocrisy, and isolation. For now, I need other things to focus on and feed my mind. I need to deal with me.
My hope is that I can learn how to be a kinder, more compassionate Christ-like person…when it comes to what I talk about, and that I can learn how to share my positions, engage with others on theirs with what I post about too…because well, I hate superficiality, and I can’t imagine a worse position than being stuck in it indefinitely.