For many of us, opening Facebook is like going to the refrigerator when we’re not even hungry.
We know what’s in there:
- health food with all the appeal of confinement to a monastic cell;
- an empty carb or twelve hundred;
- processed American cheese product converting into penicillin;
- lonely singletons like the half-empty jar of olives or the crusty relish bottle from last July–side-flings that, without decent company, are no good;
- a doggy-bag/time-capsule from the Dark Ages, and;
- I don’t even remember when we had meatloaf, but this slice in the Glad container resembles a grizzled punk rocker with green hair.
And yet, we open it up and take a look anyway. Too many times a day.
For the midlife warriors among us, Facebook has become our window into the world. We’re hooked. We’re obsessed. We’re voyeurs. We’re destroyers.
Seems extreme? Not so.
I watch enough Dr. Phil to know that Facebook is at the root of too many problems. I’ve even seen episodes on the Investigation Discovery Network in which Facebook feuds have resulted in murder.
To say nothing of the number of marriages destroyed when one spouse looks for an ex and finds him or her. Pandora’s Box–it never sounded dirtier.
Then there’s that “Keeping Up With the Joneses” aspect of social media. It’s a little too high school for me–it’s like everyone else is enjoying great vacations, great sex, great food, great wealth, great bods, great greatness.
Great. Now give me the strength and pass the reality check.
For all the great things about Facebook–finding old friends, seeing updates and pictures of their children, reaffirming commitments to stay in touch by phone and, if geographically possible, in person–there are serious drawbacks.
Add to the things I’ve mentioned, two more scientific left-handed monkey wrenches:
- The Friend-geneers at Facebook keep messing with our algorithms: For the uninformed: algorithms determine who you get to see in your Newsfeed. This is why you do not see people for long periods of time who you would like to see. This is also why you see people for long periods of time who you don’t really care to see.
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics: All things tend to a state of disorder. WTH? you may ask. Why bring physics into it? Yeah, because this is how things go from “Here are my vacation pictures from the beautiful campgrounds at Mud Lake” to “Anyone who would vote for ________________ (or support ______________ ) is a complete idiot and should be sterilized and then euthanized.” Another way to look at this is that we human beings can go from zero to asshat in no time flat.
That being said, here’s a true confession: I never knew I had so many political scientists as friends until 2016. And this is something I’d rather not know.
I’m not sure why some people feel compelled to post hateful political speech, Anti-American garbage, mean-spirited memes, and false (unverified) information, but it’s gotten out of hand.
I have unfollowed many friends over the last year and a half and it makes me sad. I no longer get to see their children grow up in their posts or read funny anecdotes about life in my former co-worker’s world because they choose to call the President of the United States of America things like, “The Orange Menace” or “The Cheetos-Fascist.”
Sure, everyone in this country has the right to free speech.
But we also have the right to walk away from it–especially in venues like Facebook that used to be playgrounds for lighthearted fun.
We further have the right to turn from those whose words debase the values of the nation that our loved ones have spilled their own blood to defend. To cut off those who promote the destruction of civility and religious liberty. (Just ask the NFL how that’s been working for them…)
You know, it seems pretty evident that the people who are screaming the loudest for tolerance are, in fact, not at all tolerant themselves. The people who cry “fascist” are, in fact, practicing fascism in doing so.
Sort of like Sports Illustrated celebrating the #metoo movement this month with a spread of naked supermodels. (Sorry. Unfortunate pun.) But I digress. Or do I?
Still, it is worth making a conscious effort to step away from the social media giant–at least from time to time. Or at least take a break from some “friends.”
After all, your thoughts become words. Your words become actions. Your actions become you.
Make sure they become you.
And be careful out there, friends.
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick