The ugly side of Facebook and why I’m taking a break

Keep Calm FB

Why do we stay in abusive relationships? Like the one(s) I have with Facebook?

The relationship I have with Facebook itself is unhealthy. The tab sits there at the top of my screen, taunting me as I try to do work, begging me to click over to see what’s happened in the last 27 minutes since I was there. Whether I’m writing lesson plans, assessing student work, paying bills, trying to build up desire to work on one of my creative writing projects (I was supposed to be a self-supporting novelist by this time in my life), Pinteresting, participating in an educator Tweetchat, or, erm, writing a blog post, my self-diagnosed ADD kicks in and I GOTTA CLICK ON THAT FACEBOOK TAB. Something might be happening in the world of my closer friends. I MIGHT MISS SOMETHING. I’m like your basic 3-year-old.

That’s a problem in itself. However, a bigger problem has grown out of my obsession. I don’t know what it is about the past few months, but people have become nastier. And it makes me sad to say that because, while I’ve met people far and wide on Twitter, and I appreciate that I can connect with them on a friendly and professional level, my friends on Facebook are mostly people I actually know, people I see in town, people I’m related to, people I’ve taught or taught with. I know that we live in a democracy – heck, I teach the First Amendment, and I know that whether friends or relatives, we often believe differently. But in these past few months something has changed. People are mean. People I like are being hateful and rude and intolerant and judging other people without knowing their stories.

We all think we’re right when we’re on one side of a controversy, but I can respect someone whose belief is different from mine if they back it up with sound argument, with some facts. What I find hard to handle is the loud folks who bluster in ignorance.

In cases where, for instance, an article is shared on Facebook – say, did you hear the one about President Obama coming to Oklahoma? And how he was greeted by Confederate Flag waving idiots? I was lured into the comments section on more than one article. I don’t know why I go there. I know it’s going to upset me, but I go anyway. The ignorance that abounds – the hate that drips. Why do Oklahomans hate our President so much? These commenters are mostly folks I don’t know (except one comrade I often find already hit those comment streams with a dose of fact – shout out, Melvin!), so I sometimes reply to some ignorance there. If the article was presented from folks on my side of the political divide and the comments are positive, I can add to it, like I did on the article about the President visiting a federal prison while he was here and comments he made about needed reform. A comment I made there scooped up about 30 likes. I must have touched on something people were thinking but no one had brought it up yet.

But when my peers post hate messages directed at my President or people with whom I am in agreement on issues, I usually feel I must remain quiet (even though they did not) so as to keep the peace. I don’t want my co-workers disliking me. If they follow my posts, they are bound to know where I stand on issues, so I have to remind myself that it really does no good to go off the handle on their posts on their timelines. They have the same First Amendment rights that I do – even if much of what they mention seems extremely uninformed to me.

I spend way too much time on Facebook, anyway, but lately, much of that time has been in fuming and trying to decide how to respond to something that has angered me (No one is actually trying to take your guns), and whether to respond at all. That time is wasted. That energy is wasted. That emotional stress could really be put to better use somewhere else.

So tonight I decided something that was a big something for me. I signed off. I know. I can just pull up a tab and it will open right up, but I’m going to try not to for a week or two. And I took it a bit further. I uninstalled the app on my phone. That’s a biggie. No more notifications. I’ve heard from others that it’s freeing. We’ll see.

What would it take for you to go, at least partially, off the grid?

For the record, since I didn’t post it over there:

  • I like President Obama, and I think he has bravely made some changes for the better in our nation, particularly lately. That meme about Bush loving America more than Obama is STUPID.
  • I would like to see tighter gun control, and although I know it is and should be defined by states, I wish every state would see the need and create laws that more closely reflect those of other states and freaking enforce them. Watch out for potential loopholes. No, I don’t think anyone should try to take everyone’s guns. Good grief.
  • I believe in separation of church and state. That means government owned properties are not spaces for displaying religious pieces of art. Moving the Ten Commandments statue from the Capitol lawn does not remove religion from anyone’s heart. Our money and time should be spent on more important matters. Politicians should stop pandering to the ignorant voters and educate people instead.
  • I think the right decision was made on marriage equality, and those who do not like gay marriage shouldn’t have one. As far as court clerks who are supposed to issue marriage licenses believing it’s a conflict with their religion and they just can’t issue a license to a same sex couple, go get another job. I doubt it bothered you one iota to issue a license to someone who was on their second or subsequent marriage or even young first-timers who’d been living together for a couple years.
  • My congressmen need to stop wasting time and tax dollars on nonsense and work on issues that will keep my state from embarrassing me time and time again.
  • This country was not founded on Christian values or “In God we Trust.” It was founded on religious freedom. I’m so tired of seeing that one. If you want Christian values for your country, then start doing as Christ would. Spread love, peace and positivity. Love your neighbor.
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About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

7 Responses to The ugly side of Facebook and why I’m taking a break

  1. Kim Adonna says:

    I appreciate this post and I’m glad I found your blog. Just today, I wrote about quitting Facebook and Twitter. It was a careful decision and it took a long time to feel as though it was time to break up. Permanently.

    • Kim, I’m glad you found my blog and that the post rang true with you. I don’t plan to quit permanently, but may do some housekeeping for self-preservation when I return. The thing is, I want MY posts to be a good example to others, not only of etiquette and digital citizenship, but of using logic and fact and even empathy to back up my position, even if it’s different from what my friends believe. I still find value in connecting with others; just may need to be more selective, I suppose. Thanks for commenting.

      • Kim Adonna says:

        Housekeeping can certainly help — it feels good to re-set priorities and connections online. That is fantastic that you are posting and responding in a respectful manner — you will indeed be a strong example to others. I worked hard to also do such when I had my accounts and it felt right and good. Thank you again for your thought blog writings!

  2. Kathie Price says:

    My thoughts. EXACTLY. Well stated and thanks for doing it. Also, thank you for your dedicated professionalism to education. 3/4 of my family are educators – both in the classroom and in administration, and I know what your career entails. Keep up the excellent work and know that there are many of us who are determined that this state at least TRY to move forward!

    • Kathie, do I take it then that you are a fellow Okie? Thank you so much for reading and commenting. If you are of educators, then you know that you cannot hear kind words too often. I hope you keep reading.

      • Kathie Price says:

        I am, in fact, a fellow Okie (if you count a 36 year transplant from Kentucky!). You do in fact need to hear kind words, and I make a practice of trying to thank every educator I know as often as I can. I will keep reading. Keep up the good work!

  3. Got a notification on my blog and after some investigation, it seems that an image I used on one of my posts has been used on one of your posts with credit given, but no permission asked. I assume you understand copyright law as you have a page dedicated to a DMCA policy. No, I’m not going to provide a DMCA notice on this item because, truly, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s an image I made on a web-based generator. It’s not like there’s much artistic/intellectual property at risk here. However, I just want to know that you know about adhering to copyright. It’s important to me because I teach it to my students.

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