A few days ago I took a Texas chainsaw to my Facebook friend list. I was teetering on a tipping point, the same tipping point that I’ve been balancing myself on for a few years now. I’ve come to loathe Facebook. Yet I still use it. Every time I decide that now is the time to delete my account and be done with it, someone I really really like sends me a Friend Request. And I simply can’t refuse.
But there are friends and there are … “friends.” For a long time the majority of my Facebook friends were family members, mostly cousins. Now, the thing about my cousins is that we are quite diverse, not just geographically but politically. Yeah, you know where this is going.
Shortly after Trump was elected I witnessed emotionally charged arguments on Facebook between cousins, people who were otherwise close and affectionate with each other. For some reason, people just had to weigh in if a cousin shared a news story or a meme that they didn’t like. Rather than just move on and leave the bickering to others, they would jump in with both feet. Being fairly thin-skinned myself, I was shocked and saddened by what I read (and, yes, I often made the mistake of participating). We had all been on Facebook for years and yet everyone, including myself, seemed surprised at how quickly these “disagreements” could escalate. Eventually everyone settled down, went back to their silos, probably turning off the “Follow” button so they could still be Facebook friends but not view whatever was going on in their friends’ or cousins’ lives.
Let’s fast-forward a little bit. There was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Plenty of evidence all around that Facebook was in the business of making money first and protecting users’ data … like never. We all got through that.
The political roller-coaster that our country is in continued, with motion-sickness pills being passed around and people slowly becoming numbed and adding insulation to their silos.
Then Kavanaugh. Need I say more?
All along I’ve been hating Facebook. I try to make it work for me but it never does. I follow and unfollow people, frustrated that I might miss some important family news when I don’t follow and then being inundated with memes and news items when I do follow. (By the way, I don’t get my news from Facebook. Just sayin’.) I’m constantly manipulating my so-called news feed so it doesn’t keep showing me the same darn post over and over again because once I’ve pretty much unfollowed everyone, all that is left are … knitting ads.
Back to Kavanaugh. I started losing my balance on the tipping point when a couple of cousins noted that they didn’t believe Dr. Ford. Fine, but who cares? Well, I care. Bigly. And the element of snickering snarkiness in the comments decided it for me. My life is simply too short for this kitty poop. So, you say, simply unfollow the person who made the post and the people who commented on it. Not so easy, because you see, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to Facebook. As another cousin described it, Facebook is like driving by the scene of an accident. You really shouldn’t look but you can’t help yourself.
I totally lost my balance when I saw this article in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-latest-facebook-says-hack-required-sophistication/2018/09/28/83b16778-c347-11e8-9451-e878f96be19b_story.html?utm_term=.9f4db3bb3547
Interestingly, the Facebook account of another relative of mine was hacked into a few weeks ago. He wasn’t the only victim. Many people associated with his account got a message presumedly from him, only it wasn’t. I was one of those people. What might affect 50 million users directly exponentially affects a thousand times more.
With that, I revved my Texas chainsaw and unfollowed every one of my cousins. I didn’t want to play favorites. I didn’t want someone coming after me one day and saying “I always knew you liked so-and-so better.” And I love my cousins, really I do. I just don’t want to be Facebook friends anymore. We were cousins long before Facebook, long before Mark Zuckerberg himself was born. We’re still cousins. We’re still family. We don’t need Facebook.
I haven’t deleted my account. I belong to a couple of writing organizations that are pretty active on Facebook so I want to stay in for a while, at least to see if being involved in those groups is worth my time.
But if any of my cousins happens to read this, just remember, we will always have Messenger. And if you want my phone number, you can always call my mom.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.