For the first month of abstention that little blue square on my iPad taunted me.
Hit the button. Come on man… tap me, just this once. I promise it won't be as bad as it was last time. Sigh. Come onnnn, you haven’t seen your cousins’ baby pics yet or family Christmas photos or even comments on your own blog… for two months!!!…pause… I'll show you a fluffy kitten...
Ahhh, but I know better. You can’t fool me. Facebook is no longer rife with darling dance recitals, precious puppy pics, quotable quotes from candid kids and the latest Batman/Superman coffee chat. I love that stuff! It’s the reason I joined FB in the first place. WHERE IS IT?????
Gone… disappeared… lost in the weeds of partisan politics, swarmed by the rising clamor of hostility and outrage, negated by a barrage of hate news.
Opening Pandora’s Box
Tapping that benign blue icon was suddenly like tapping into a Pandora’s Box of animosity. More and more of my F-Feed was filled with trash-talk; browsing it became an anxiety-riddled ride. I drowned in daily raging rants and hourly peeved postings and an epic flood of forwards. I was not advised, or persuaded or urged. I was warned of the only side to trust… admonished as to the only person to vote for…sermonized as to the only things to believe…berated into obedience.
BECAUSE ALL-CAP SCREAMING is SOOOOOOO HELPFUL!!!!!
Pre-election, I observed this fearful, hate-filled sludge increase in tenor day after day, on both sides. (Oh, don’t go thinking your side is any better than the other.) Facebook over-flowed with one grievance after another, compounded by yelling and screaming and venomous name-calling (insert derogatory ‘ist or ‘phobe word here). Multi-paragraph posts were severely emphasized by plentiful exclamation points!!! and copious CAPITALIZATION and oodles of “F#@k” and heaps of “S#1t”!!!!!!! Don’t forget that poop emoticon, double scoopin’ = double disgusted.
Wow. That’s helpful. What happened to the high road? Knots in the pit of my stomach welled up each time I encountered another angry post, seeing people I know, people of such high-caliber, sink to such… malice. It made my heart hurt.
Politics Aside…This is About Civility
Red/ Blue/ Green…I don’t give a flying hoot about your politics. This is about civility…and the abject loss of it. Trolls attack bloggers and posters while hiding anonymously behind the sanctuary of their computer screen; but these Facebookers are openly and viciously attacking their own Friends...no anonymity desired! It’s mind-boggling. What’s the point? I don’t get it. Is this the New Normal?
Facebook = Jerry Springer
These biting posts were not directed at me personally (yet), just to anyone who would read. So don’t read it! Appropriate advice. But it’s like accidentally flipping on a Jerry Springer episode… it’s right there staring at me and I can’t help it, I am inexplicably drawn to the train wreck, I have to watch it…and ultimately feel disgusted at humanity afterward. The problem is, Facebook showcases these Jerry Springer marathons - on every channel, every hour, every day.
The more I read, the worse I felt. For my own sanity, I had to go cold turkey. And I highly recommend it. After two months, I find it easy to ignore the temptation of that innocuous blue button, to diminish that feeling of obligation, to disregard the desire to KNOW. For me, Facebook’s power is no more, the man behind the curtain revealed. So I’m ready to go back online and face the onslaught. But I’ll be severely limiting my browse time.
So, You’re NOT Boycotting The Facebook?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not boycotting Facebook. For all its faults, it’s still the best way to reconnect with friends and family from thousands of miles away, to peep in on my peeps lives for a brief moment just to see what’s up. Moreover, I do not call for regulating hate speech. You have every right to spew forth chunks of vomit like you’d had a rough night downing 30 jello shots.
I call on people to start regulating themselves.
Stop the Shrieking Soliloquys
- Quit with the daily/hourly lectures. I don’t mind the occasional hissy-fit; who isn’t guilty on this count? But must we revisit your dire worldview every half-hour? Can we reduce that to say, once a week? Is that sufficient? I have enough of my own anxiety about the direction of the world without you piling on, drowning me in despair. Do some news outlet trolling amongst strangers if you wish to vent; leave us, your FB acquaintances, out of your preachy political pulpit.
- Quit screaming already. Start thinking before you write, people! Go ahead, share your occasional, thoughtful, opinions and reposts. But stop the irrational, insult-ridden, expletive-wrought tirades. You’re better than that. Aren’t you? Venom-spitting gets your viewpoint nowhere... not to mention, aneurysm-inducing.
Final Advice for Facebook Ranters
Unsure whether your post is over-the-top nutso? Ask yourself this: Would you be proud to allow your 6-year old to read those wise words?
Wait…but what do I DO if I’m not fuming on Facebook? I happen to have the answer.
PLEASE! Return Facebook to the BT Era (Before Trump)
Why can’t we return Facebook to its benign, cuddly-kitty-filled, pre-election existence? Aren’t you sick of scrolling through all that slime just to get to your niece’s Halloween pictures? How about remaking Facebook into its former civil cyber-society instead of the division-inducing, life-sucking monster it has become? Is it really too much to ask? Is it too late?
More Pug Pictures!
I appreciate those Facebookers who understand and stick to the original concept. Despite the hullabaloo, they continue to post shining moments and insights into their daily lives: vids of those adorable pug puppies playing with a new toy; an obsessive opine on the mental health benefits of Thin Mint cookies; that funny thing your 9-yr old said the other day; an Octoberfest celebration dressed in full-on Lederhosen. I love you guys for it. More!
Negate the Negativity
Maybe the answer is simply to overwhelm all this negativity.
I want to see a million more reposts of James Corden + Adele carpool karaoke. (I dare you to maintain that frown on your face after watching.) Or how about Mike Rowe’s reading of an 11-yr-old’s hilarious sales pitch for Girl Scout cookies? That’s what I’m talking about!
Flood that F-Feed with photos of concerts and reunions and vacations and museum visits and soccer games and ballet recitals and awards ceremonies and anniversaries. Submit your best foodie shots, your restaurant raves, your movie reviews. I want to see a gazillion “How’s it hangin’?” cat posters! Heck, I’ll even gladly accept the pointless “I’m tired (frowny-face)” or “Night, night!” posts I’ve forever criticized… snaps of your new shoes/fish tank/little black dress…anything!
More good stuff. Less bad.
Less spitting, more smiling. Less hand-wringing, more hugging. Less hostility, more harmony. OK? Truce? All it takes is YOU. And YOU. And YOU…
and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.” – Dwight Currie