Thursday, June 27, 2013

020 : You're an actual person, and Facebook is not a realistic representation of that.

(Fuck it, I'm not backlogging for Wednesday, I'm just continuing my post count and admitting I missed a day!)

Recently, I rejoined Facebook. I had left Facebook because it often felt overwhelming. For instance, I would go to a large swing dancing event and receive tens of requests the next day, even more requests as I uploaded pictures from the event. I felt compelled to accept all of those requests only to realize a month or so later that my feed was full of strangers. So, I would begin unfriending all of these dancers I didn't really know. Also, for me, Facebook is a stressor. There is so much idiocy posted and reposted and I am a culprit of starting Facebook brawls. I would have strangers comment on personal status updates in a manner that felt antagonistic and inappropriate. Because Facebook is such a free-for-all, where every person feels they have a right to rely to any item that pops up in their feed, I found myself confronted on personal issues by people who did not know me well enough to say anything. Their inability to refrain from commenting when they were not close enough to me to make any appropriate commentary really bothered me. So I began a no-acquaintances policy. It worked, until I realized that even my friends are capable of saying things that I don't like. It was just a hot mess, and it became clear to me that I cannot function within the bounds of Facebook.

Facebook makes me feel uncomfortable. Facebook removes the filter by which I usually gain information. If you are my friend, and I never have any interest in hearing about your job, but you constantly post job updates, then I find myself annoyed. In reality, I can have conversations with my friends that never turn to their job, which I may find boring or with which I may disagree, because reality is organic and we have control over how we process and share information. Facebook removes that filter and forces us to take whatever is given, and it is put in relief against the backdrop of our interpersonal interactions.

But the thing is, Facebook is not actual interpersonal interaction. Facebook is more like a bulletin board for someone's life. If I had a friend who had diverse religious beliefs from myself, with whom I do not engage in religious conversation because we know where we stand and we've come to a friendship that doesn't require that, then Facebook takes that filter away. Facebook removes our decisions and autonomy in our friendship and puts everything in one place. Should I choose to comment on a religious status posted by that friend, voicing some dissent, I am now open for backlash from her religious friends. These people don't know me. They don't know the context of my friendship and where my friend and I stand. Facebook effectively removes actual interpersonal interaction and replaces it with a dumping ground of personal information. It is up to us to filter that information.

But it's hard, right? As much as I may choose to avoid certain topics with friends, your posting of it and its appearance on my feed feels like you're forcing it on me. Of course, you're not doing that. You're posting what you like in your internet space, and I happen upon it, because it is a sharing space. It is up to me to remember that you did not come to my house and dump your shit on my living room carpet, forcing me to clean up my own personal space. But it is so hard for me to remember that.

And of course, everyone believes they have a right to this information and a right to reply. But you have no rights therein. You do not take it upon yourself to interrupt every conversation you've ever heard in a public space. You do not go to parties and interrupt conversations, taking their words out of context, to impose your own dogmatic bullshit. In real life, you ignore those you don't know in a public space. You keep to yourself. At parties, you avoid the friends of friends whom you don't like. You're probably not going to start bar fights. (Unless you're a fan of bar fights, in which case, let's go out!)

But on Facebook, all of this is ok. Because we are insulated by a computer monitor and a text box. We can't see beyond those things and we take the attitude of, "If you post it, then you're asking for it."

Quite frankly, that's a recipe for rape!

And yeah, that's what I feel Facebook is, often. It's a situation where others invade my safe spaces with their ideas with no consent from me and with no concern for my feelings. Y'all, that's not friendship.

So this is the status update I posted today : It's weird to me how much unfriending feels like I'm doing something wrong. As if I'm actually ending a relationships with a person instead of asserting that social media isn't a great fit for me and allowing myself to set boundaries for my life. So I choose those farthest away from me, the acquaintances who have not been in my life long, the ones I won't see for months at a time, and I let them go first. As if by dint of being someone I know less deeply than someone else, they are more expendable. But the truth is that no person is expendable, I just don't like connecting through Facebook. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!

This is true. No one is expendable, I just don't like Facebook. But still, I'm going to unfriend slowly, as if that makes it any better or matters any more. But it feels better for me. Last time, I had about 4 friends on Facebook. I may bring it back down to that number, or I may leave entirely. I'm not sure. But it's for me to decide, and it has absolutely no bearing on your worth or on the worth of our friendship.


  1. Ugh, if everyone on Facebook could have this attitude! One of my friends posted a comic book quote that I recognized, and then had someone commenting saying that she needed to watch her language and that they don't like "nasty" stuff in their feed. It made me angry, because it's HER Facebook page. If you don't like it, keep scrolling! I don't know that person, or her relationship to them, but the reason was because they didn't want nasty things in their feed.

    Anyways, I agree with a lot of what you said, but at the same time I never quite thought of it like this. I do treat Facebook like I do real life a lot of the time. I'm careful not to "interrupt" or post on things that seem more personal if I'm not real close to that person.

    And I no longer care about unfriending, I just do it now. And my feed is so much better.

    1. Right!? And the person could choose not to see that post. That's what the little arrow is for!

      When I wrote this, Facebook didn't have as many settings as they do now. It's gotten a lot better. Most people I am "friends" with, I mute. Then I never see anything they do, unless I click over to their profile.

      I still feel obligated to accept friend requests and I still feel guilty if I unfriend someone!!