This is Day One of my Personal Facebook Boycott (PFbB).
Why am I boycotting Facebook? There are several reasons, but first a little background.
I remember when MySpace intruded into my space around the year of 2008. If I remember correctly, I had over 10,000 followers, but I never really knew what it was for. I received some nice messages and I received some very hostile ones, but then Facebook smashed me in the face around the end of that same year.
Facebook limits one to 5000 “friends” which is something I don’t understand, but I always have close to 5000 “friends” and over 2000 “friend” requests pending. Out of the 5k “friends” I have, I probably have met about 200 in person, and know about 25 pretty well and 10 very well. Also, out of the 5k, I know I only see posts from about 50 of them. I do have a “fan” page for my radio show that people can just “LIKE” and I have almost 12k “LIKES” on Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.
One of the reasons that I am embarking on a PFbB is that Facebook (Fb) gives false bravado to social cowards. Many people write things on Facebook that they would NEVER, EVER say to another if they were actually Face-to-Face with them.
“FACE”book? A lot of these socially backward cowards don’t even use their real names or photos. This is usually a big tipoff to how their discourse will be.
It seems a lot of times on Fb, if one does not agree with something that another posts, that person is automatically a “retard” (yes, people still use that word); “a plant;” or, the ultimate FB slander, “a troll.” Just because a person posts an opinion that you strongly disagree with, that person is not necessarily an “evil, moronic, douchebag.” That person may be an “evil, moronic, douchebag,” but he/she could also be a very nice person with shallow political analysis or understanding. Fb has created a fake paradigm where if you don’t agree with someone 100%, then that other person is value-less.
I will give an example of how low the discourse has sunken on FB. Just yesterday, an Obama supporter equated me with Ayn Rand on his wall because I posted something about not worshipping Democrats or living in fear of the Tea Party.
To compare me to Ayn Rand doesn’t even make sense in the abstract, but in the concrete, if the person bothered to check, I am a Socialist…I believe in the strength of society. Ayn Rand was the opposite of that. She only believed in Ayn Rand and what Ayn Rand could squeeze out of her followers AND the government before she died. Why didn’t that man post the reasons that he did worship the Democrats and live in fear of the Tea Party? That would have been more healthy and could have elevated the discourse that, instead, instantly degenerated to name-calling.
I do grow weary of the posts by people who want to blame everything that is wrong with the world on the Tea Party—like everything was hunky dory until it reared its ugly head. I don’t support the Tea Party, but honestly, what have the Democrats done for you lately? Ted Cruz is a jerk and so is Obama but neither one is the problem. The problem is a systemic issue and hacking at the branches will just make the hacker tired and the mess far bigger. Try to say something like that on FB and you get trounced because it’s difficult to attack the root. I often wonder what kind of response Henry David Thoreau would have received on Fb?
Henry (WaldenRocks) David status update: “For every one thousand hacking at the branches, there is one attacking the root.”Ralph Waldo E, Jon Gold and 1048 others like thisReplies#WhigOut “Come on, Hank, you Torietard! You can’t honestly believe that those coc%suc%ing Tories aren’t evil revivalist devils hell bent on destroying the planet? Vote Whig, or stay on your pond, jackass.”#GiveMeLiberty: “Vote for Ron Paul, 1820!”
LOL. I know hash tags are Twitter devices, but they are making their insidious little ways on to Fb, also.
Many of my friends, real and only imagined in the Fb world, (how do I know that even if a “real” name and photo are used, that it’s a real identity? I don’t and neither do you), are struggling publicly on Fb with homelessness, depression, quitting smoking, weight, etc., and that’s their choice to do so. I guess FB is their support group, although sometimes there are pitifully few responses to the cries for help.
It distresses me no end when someone that I don’t know (and it happens often) says that they are going to kill themselves in their status updates. What am I supposed to say, “don’t do it, you have a lot to live for?” It depresses me to know that Fb is the only place these people have to go for help? There are no loved ones they can call? No one to reach out to? Or are they just desperate for attention? It is also hard because I believe that if a person in his/her right mind wants to decide when his/her life should end, they have that right. However, is Fb a good place to adjudicate that terribly painful and delicate issue? Maybe Fb has saved some lives, but it seems like such a superficial place to discuss something so intimate.
Then there’s what I call the “Petition Syndrome. “Please share” this petition because, despite all evidence to the contrary, if we get signatures and if we present our petition to the 1% or their politicians, then wars, global warming, nuclear power, torture, exploitation, would end. If I don’t sign/share a FB person’s petition, then I am a prima donna asshole, but I would like to write a petition to get people off their asses and to hit the streets.
For me, Fb has proven to be a horrible organizing tool. Attendance at protests/teach-ins/rallies/bike rides has gone down since the advent of “clicktivism.” Clicktivism is a subset of the Petition Syndrome. I don’t think Fb is solely to blame for the waning attendance. Insane allegiance to the “two” party system hurts social and political organizing, but the Internet, in general, has harmed street heat. Many of my friends tell me that phone trees got more people out back in the day. However, with Fb, why should we go out to protest when we can bitch all day about what we hate AND see all of our “friends” with a click of our mouse or tap of our mouse pad?
Then there is this minor thing I have about FB, but something that I have allowed to get under my skin: I am sorry, but I don’t really need to know everything you eat, drink, think, or do. I don’t know anyone, not even my dear, beloved grandchildren that I want to know EVERYTHING about. It seems that some people use Fb as extensions of their thought processes. I could use the BLOCK function, and I do use it liberally, but then these people freak out on me and it’s easier just to hide their posts, but it annoys me that people think thousands of people really want to see pictures of their food, or have a detailed account of their every movement, bowel or otherwise.
I had a "friend" who blocked me because I ride a bike (yes, I am not exaggerating, he thinks cyclists are evil and walkers are morally superior), but he posts pictures of the vegan Indian food he cooks. I assume he still does this, but I don’t know because I am the blocked evil cyclist. I finally told him, “Alex, I am a vegan and I love vegan Indian food, but your photos look like you took a picture of your toilet bowl after a nasty bout of stomach flu.”
It is my opinion, that it's cool to share recipes, "to do" lists (especially if that list includes shutting down Monsanto, or something), but can we allow for some mystery in our lives and computer screen relationships? It's tragic that I know more about some people I have never met then my high-school best friend or my last boyfriend.
I almost exclusively use my Fb for political posts and other news that I consider relevant. Once in awhile, I will share a picture of one of my grandchildren, or write about something adorable that one of them did or said, and I am not against using your own wall for whatever you want to use it for, but that stuff creeps onto my wall like the worst graffiti.
I guess, when you come right down to it, my observation is that Fb does not build healthy relationships but Fb builds those walls that block relational, physical presence. It’s too easy to jump down someone’s throat, or foist ill-formed and uninformed opinions on others. Even though I don’t let anyone push me around online, or in real time, for example, if a waitperson gets my order wrong, I am not going to say, “what the hell’s the matter with you, you stupid c*nt.” I have seen that kind of behavior too often on Fb for it to be anomalous.
For any of the times I have exhibited the behavior that I am grumping about here, I am ashamed of myself and apologize. I really do get Facebook induced grouchiness, so I have to remove myself, at least temporarily, or maybe, for good!
Facebook may have been designed, or is now being used by the establishment to construct these walls to block healthy human interaction and like anything else, needs to have a place, time and perspective. Anything can become an addiction if we allow it.
The “creator” (some say, stealer) of Fb, Mark Zuckerberg is laughing all the way to the bank. I recently read that Zuckerberg purchased four houses in his exclusive Palo Alto neighborhood so someone who may want to be his neighbor, cannot (as if), while we are calling each other “douchebag” and willfully handing over our information to be easily harvested by the NSA.
There are probably at least one-million things I have posted on Fb that have annoyed/angered people, so I don't want to appear to be a Judy Judger. These are just my own observations and are not intended to offend anyone, but if you see yourself in these words, it’s a chance to evaluate your own relationship to Fb, or to keep going the way you’re going, whatever. Your wall, your posts; if you are happy with your Fb life, then by all means forge ahead. You obviously don’t need my approval or “blessing.”
I had email buddies from around the world before Fb and I think I will have them Post-Fb. I feel like Fb is "Life-blocking" me and I want to do what Walt Whitman exhorted us to do:
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
These are some of the things I am going to do besides hatch FB all day:
Write (books and blogs)
Read (books and blogs)
Run for Governor of California (cindy2014.org)
Expand Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
Play with grandbabies
Train for a 5k I signed up for that’s on Thankstaking
Smell the REAL flowers
Play with a REAL puppy or kitten
Make at least one new friend in a Face-to-face way
Walk the dog
Make yummy vegan food, sans photos
Think things that I don’t put on a status update
Undermine the Empire
In the meantime, if you'd like to get a hold of me, this is the old-fashioned way: