Wednesday, January 04, 2017
The Facebook Monster
It was great fun. Soon I was in several-times-per-week contact with friends far away. They posted pictures of their families (ye, gods, that guy I watched grow up next door is a grandfather already!), their travels, their quilts. It was wonderful. In short order, I'd reconnected with a couple of high school friends, lost these many years; reconnected not just on line but over some lovely lunches together. I enjoyed learning what they had made of their lives. People shared their pleasurable as well as poignant moments. I felt connected. Sure, there was the gal who seemed unable to make any kind of a move without posting ("took a shower"), and I let go of her pretty quickly. But, by and large, I enjoyed it.
Over the eight or nine months leading up to the 2016 election, however, my Facebook content took a turn for what ultimately turned out to be the worse. It was so gradual that at first I didn't even notice that I was reading way more moral outrage than I was reading glorious grandchildren. I watched as "friendships" dissipated -- people unfriended those of a different political persuasion. Then it happened to me: I found I just didn't want to read any more of Lulu's adoration of a certain comb-over. I quietly let her go. But the dis-ease that I was experiencing didn't go away and I discovered that it wasn't the Trumpists who were impacting me so much as my own peeps -- the other bleeding-heart idealistic liberals!
I came to realize that I was getting most of my news (and editorial content) from Facebook, from the political sites I'd begun to follow, but even more by the constant denouncing of the deplorables. It was getting to me bigly. In an effort to seek some balance, I stopped reading Huffpo and subscribed to The New York Times. That helped some. But in the weeks following the election, the political posting has become all the more fervent, as if somehow, some way, ranting (word used in the kindest possible sense) could make things different.
My wise husband said, "Facebook is like meeting someone you know on the street. You have a few seconds of chat/catch-up. You ask about the family; you speak about your vacation. You don't hold forth about what's happening (or not happening) in DC. You pet their dog and you move along."
I'm in process of re-evaluating my FB involvement. I've disconnected the few political sites I had espoused. I've unfollowed (but not unfriended, just in case) the most outspoken, single-focused preachers. I'm thinking hard about whether to stop Facebooking entirely. It would be healthier for me to pretty much stick with the Times for my news, and not have these political sidewalk conversations that make up such a big part of FB. But how else would I know about Bobbi's daily gratitude (which I seldom comment but always ponder), about dear Anne in England and what's going on in her world, about the perambulations of my seminary classmates, and the wonderful photos of everyone's children and grandchildren? And the quilts, above all, the quilts.
No cow pictures here. I don't want this to be a Cranky Old Woman post. I'm just sharing my current thinking and waiting to see how it evolves.
Posted by Nancy Stevens on Wednesday, January 04, 2017