|Photo by Beatnik Photos via Flickr|
I can’t be the only one who’s heard this argument: If you only have Facebook friends who always agree with you (like that’s even possible) and don’t expose yourself to different worldviews, you’ve created a bubble. And bubbles are bad!
Of course, this is said lately after you say you unfriend people for supporting the Great Orange Buffoon.
I think I’m a typical Facebook user. When I started out all those years ago, I gleefully accepted every friend request I got, and sent out plenty more. I had friends all over the country and the world. Most of my friends came to me because I’m an atheist. Facebook was becoming one big atheist convention. And then everyone I went to high school with, and everyone who ever went to that school, and everyone in my home town joined my friends list. I was a veritable socialite, which is nothing to snort at for an introvert.
Remember when we watched the count of how many friends we had and imagined the day we’d reach that upper limit? What would we do? Oh, dear, what on earth would we do? I never had to find out.
Turns out, that guy I “friended” in California was a vegan or fruitarian or some such, and posted diatribes against what I like to eat, namely hamburgers. And that woman up north was a member of PETA and kept posting pictures of animals being tortured. Even typically normal, as in not fanatical, “friends” posted pictures of suffering animals, wanting me to spread the word and stop the abuse! (Look, I eat some of them, but I don’t want them to suffer. And I can’t get through the day without crying if I have to look at your most-likely photo-shopped pictures and quite often disingenuous claims. What I’d like to know is, how do you get through the day constantly spreading that stuff? No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to talk to you anymore.) Anyway, then that anti-Muslim guy liked to post pictures of beheadings and gays being tossed off buildings. There was at least one guy who couldn’t seem to go a single day without calling Ayn Rand a cunt. Another guy who had a seriously deranged issue with Sarah Jessica Parker’s face. And then Trayvon Martin was killed and about fifty of my so-called “friends” clearly couldn’t think rationally.
At some point I decided that I wanted to enjoy Facebook. You know...be social on it. Have fun. I didn’t, and still don’t, require a place on the Internet in which I engaged in battle on a daily basis, and if I did, it wouldn’t be the same place I shared pictures of my cats and kids. Like hell.
So, the “unfriending” began. Call a woman a cunt? Good-bye. Show me pictures of dead or tortured people or animals. Gone. Idiots? No more. Can’t stop ranting about your pet brand of crazy—astrology, homeopathy, and the insanity that claims vaccines cause autism? Booted from my list of people with whom I’d like to interact.
Once the unfriending began, it got easier. You know how, when you go out shopping, but you’re loath to spend money. It just takes that first purchase...that first silly little thing that costs twenty bucks and the next thing you know you’ve got a $500 mixer in your cart. It’s the same with so-called friends on Facebook. You might think maybe this guy isn’t so bad. So you check his wall, scroll down, just to be sure. By the time you’ve unfriended fifty whackos it’s nothing. You just posted a diatribe against Black Lives Matter and you want me to “share” it to show that I agree that “Cops Lives Matter?” What are you? Some kind of idiot? Gone. Gone. Just gone.
And then came Trump.
With Trump, I learned that nearly every person I went to school with, every person who lived in my hometown, was dumb as toast. And I “unfriended” them without a tear. No hesitation.
“But...but,” people were saying. “Just because we support Trump, or like Trump, or post pictures of Hillary Clinton with a target on her face doesn’t mean we’re racists, or misogynists, or stupid.”
Yes it does. I don’t want to interact with you. Ever. Again.
“But...but,” too many people have been saying, “if you live in a bubble...”
Give me a break.
Actual “conversation” I had on Facebook:
Guy who thinks you’re doing it wrong if you aren’t being confronted on a daily basis about something: If you unfriend people, you’re creating a bubble and that’s not healthy. (paraphrased, of course)
Me: So you’re saying your entire life revolves around Facebook?
Stupid guy: No. But if you create a bubble in any part of your life, that’s still a bubble.
Me: OMG, you’re stupid. (paraphrasing still, of course). Turn off your computer and go outside.
What kind of people are getting their sole information about the world, their only socializing, their only education and food for thought...from Facebook? They’re not. And they should stop pretending they are. Stop pretending that Facebook is your plug-in to the world. If it is, you have serious problems that I’m not qualified to go into here.
What is Facebook, anyway? It’s a social network. So, when you chastise me for unfriending people who say Donald Trump is a great man, you’re telling me that if I meet this troglodyte at a party, I should stand there and listen to him and his friends go on about Trump’s plans to build a wall, and make Mexico pay [us back] for it. Of course, I could tell him he’s out of his mind and that’s never going to happen. Then we argue. And the party is ruined. But I’m still supposed to go back to that party sometime in the future and stand with that guy and let him say the same, or equally, stupid nonsense, and engage him again.
Other people will say I don’t have to talk to him. If I don’t like what he says, just move along. But here’s where the entire idea starts to break apart. Because this isn’t someone else’s party—it’s not someplace I go and play by someone else’s rules. It’s my party. My Facebook wall. And it’s in my house.
I don’t have to sit down for some social time on my Facebook wall, only to have to work to ignore people who idolize a man I find so repugnant that it angers me just thinking about him. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who thinks Donald Trump is a good man, a great man, a successful man is an idiot. And anyone who supported Donald Trump’s campaign for president is either racist, misogynistic, or a bully. And if not, they cheered one on, so what’s the difference?
And now people are trying to tell me that if I “unfriend” these people, I’m living in a bubble. An echo chamber. Walling myself off from the world.
"Engage!" they insist.
Dude. The world is still there. The Great Oompa Loompa is soon to be President of the United States. There is racism out there, and misogyny, hate, suffering, fascism, corruption, nuclear weapons, and dying children and pets! It’s all there for everyone to see. Facebook is not my world. It’s not the world.
And frankly, it’s bad enough trying to find the pictures of my “friends’” cats while wading through the articles and rants about Heir Drumpf posted by people with whom I tend to agree. Why must I suffer idiots, racists, and bullies, too? No. It’s not a bubble. It’s my party and I’ll enjoy it the way that I want to.
Granted, it’s really sad about my hometown. But it does do a lot to explain my sad and lonely childhood.