I brought my husband, Bret, to the Manor on Golden Pond for his 45th birthday. I didn’t know when I booked this Veteran’s Day get-a-way for us to celebrate his birthday just how much “I” would need it. Not for celebrating, but for recovering from the Presidential election and campaign season and mostly from Facebook.
I can’t see how we elected Donald J. Trump to the Office of President. It really does blow my mind. Not just because he’s said and done vulgar things to women and carelessly insulted so many people I love during his campaign, but more so because he is surrounding himself with politicians I actually despise more than him, just as he promised to do his entire campaign. Rudy Guliani! Chris Christie! Jeff Sessions! Mike Pence! Facts and data about climate change – toss em. Facts and data about a broken health care system – flush em. Protect the middle class from the “give corporations a soul and all of our constitutional rights as though they were actually people” movement – with these guys? Are you kidding me? Women’s rights? Holy balls. We just lost the Supreme Court – fugetabout it! And, forgetting for a minute that all of these men are very very very very very very CONSERVATIVE on absolutely every issue I care about, and on environmental issues I have fought and won on for SEVENTEEN YEARS (only to watch them now dismantle the EPA and the National Parks) they are also all old, incredibly rich, white elitists. Can someone please tell me how a country that wanted “change” more than anything else; a country that was willing to overlook “pussy grabbing” and “ban all muslims” for THAT change just went back in time 30 years with this group of men and his children? His children on his transition team. What in the hell?! I’m entitled to be upset about this. I really am. I’m not a baby or a bad sport for feeling not only like Trump doesn’t represent me, but for being afraid of his backwards policies, and a little worried about how so many of the people I know and love voted for him (not because he is a racist, elitist, sexist, demagogue, but in spite of those qualities). Frankly, I’m embarrassed by him.
Okay, so I’ve vented a little and ranted and I feel better. This is how writing is supposed to work. Moving on …. Facebook destroyed my faith in humanity. Facebook was worse than Trump winning. Facebook right now is the more serious policy problem for this country. It’s worse than climate change. Nice people, people I like and have known my whole life demeaned and insulted and dismissed me with words and even memes (for the love of God). It’s like they forgot who I am. These people who I would have dinner with and laugh with and enjoy their company any day of the week with, demeaned, belittled, and took me down several notches every chance they got, in all of the many ways made possible by Facebook.
The first way you can hurt a “Facebook” friend is to ignore them. You can pretend that you just didn’t catch that last post. You did, however, just like my other post. You remember, the one of my daughter playing basketball? But, you didn’t like my picture with Hillary Clinton. This choice “not to like,” creates two problems: 1) It hurts my feelings because even if you don’t like Hillary, my picture with her is pretty amazing and if you are my friend (or my family) and if you were at my house, you would say “that is a pretty amazing picture” before asking me to pass the salad; and, 2) because you didn’t just “not like” my picture of Hillary, but, you also liked one of my other posts, you are actually telling me what you think is appropriate for me to post in order to keep your friendship or gain your approval. WTF!?
The second way you can hurt a “Facebook” friend is by voting on their posts. If you “like” the post, I get your approval. Hooray! You like me and my ideas. Silliness. If you don’t like my post, I’m left to wonder (and you know you are looking at all the people who like the things you say and all the people who don’t like them and forming “Facebook” conclusions about them. Utter nonsense. And, you can do something still even worse than “not liking” my post. You can “like” someone else’s horrible comment about my post. Ouch! Listen friends. These are my ideas about the world. You don’t get to vote on them. Really, you don’t. Facebook just makes you think you get to vote on them. You can engage with me on them in a civilized way. That’s called conversation. Remember that? Engage with me the way you would if I invited you over for a chicken dinner at my house. But you can’t call me “a sheep” or insult my intelligence in this very public forum and expect it not leave a mark. You just can’t. That’s not how friendships, or families, for that matter, work.
Facebook made it quick and easy for all of us to throw our friends in boxes and stick labels on them, and by posting memes and bull shit news sources and liking and not liking each other’s posts, it seems that we all agreed to that social construct. I guess you can say we did it for convenience sake.
I just want you to know that if you are my friend, you will always be my friend. If you are my family, you will always be my family. Nothing you can do on Facebook could ever change that. If you aren’t my friend, you won’t be reading this blog and I don’t really need Facebook to tell me that you didn’t care enough about me to stay in touch.
So, I am facebooking no more. And, as I watch the sun setting over Squam Lake (Golden Pond), I can almost hear Katherine Hepburn yelling to Henry Fonda, “Come here, Norman. Hurry Up. The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us back.”