I'm not quite sure exactly what happened, when the tipping point was, but Facebook is really starting to harsh my mellow these days. It is depressing as hell over there. Between dentists decapitating lions, black motorists dying after traffic stops, and political hijinks, I've about had it.
The thing is, none of these things are new. Wealthy men with small penises have always opened their wallets wide to get help putting a new animal head on the wall of their man cave. Racism in our criminal justice system is not something "on the rise," as its been the norm for as long as our criminal justice system has existed. And politicians just suck, everyone knows that.
Maybe part of the problem is that Facebook allows me to know things about people I love dearly or just met once or twice. In a different era, I might not be privy to where my acquaintances stand on controversial issues like choice, marriage equality, or the displaying of the Confederate flag. Now I know. Because they tell me. Often.
I am just as guilty. Facebook has become the ultimate bully pulpit. I use it myself to raise funds for pediatric cancer research, rail about the state of public education, and try and educate folks about America's unhealthy and dangerous obsession with guns.
Here is a sampling of my own posts from the past few weeks:
Heading to my son's school for an evening meeting. Thanks to Obama, Duncan, Rahm, and the CPS powers that be, it feels like I'm heading into a crime scene. And, yes, I do hold Obama partially responsible. His education policy truly sucks.
Bobby Jindahl tells us that what we can do for the victims of tonight's theater shooting is send our prayers and hugs. I respectfully disagree. We can start to demand shock and outrage at these continued shootings.
And my kid now has a 7:30 AM start time for his CPS school. That means a 5:45 AM bus pick up for some classmates. This is not good. Not good at all. All to save $ that was squandered by politicians. But I guess we all need to make sacrifices, right?
We have lost any sense of collectivism or social responsibility. We embrace this mentality of taking care of our own, and no others.
My guess is that many of my "friends" find me insufferable, politely scrolling past my Facebook activism, believing that our connection from grade school or cancer circles or blogging merits me remaining on their friend list, just as I do with them.
And the thing that strikes me as the most oppressive is the indignity we all seem to have, again, including myself in this. The shaming, the outrage, the hell fire and brimstone response to everything that happens. Everything, big and small. Facebook's currency is making mountains out of mole hills.
Here's an example. Cecil, the feline national treasure of Zimbabwe, is stalked and killed by a dentist from Minnesota. People are outraged. An actress posts the dentist's address on Twitter. He is almost universally reviled (at least on my feed). Cue the contrarians. Now a whole other set of folks are outraged that the dentist outrage is so out of control. Where is the outrage about street violence in America? Where is the outrage about violence committed by cops? Where is the outrage about hunting closer to home?
It goes on and on and on, the outrage.
Caitlyn Jenner is crowned with an award certifying her courage in the midst of her transition from man to woman. Cue the contrarians. Where is the courage award for veterans who have lost limbs? Where is the courage award for young women basketball players struck down by pediatric cancer? Where is the courage award for [insert cause of choice here]?
Witnessing this outrage and indignity is unhealthy and oppressive. Seriously. It is depressing and heavy and ugly and fills our hearts with goop, and not the expensive Gwyneth Paltrow kind.
Human nature, it seems, can be kind of awful.
I need a break. It used to be that people complained about the nightly news. "If it bleeds, it leads," was the saying. But, the thing is, that evening news was contained. It was an active decision to turn on the news at 5:30 or 6 or 10 or 11 to learn about the world around you, near and far.
These day, just the mere act of trying to stay connected with friends and family places you in this arena of ick that is Facebook. We have all somehow decided to slog through the muck of black lives matter/all lives matter, cops suck/cops are heroes, the sky is falling for Confederates/Chicago public school kids/the Supreme Court/Christians/etc.
Staying in touch with one another never required so much fortitude. And I'm pretty certain this is not what our forefathers hashed out in the Constitution. Oh wait. That's another discussion entirely.
See, that's the thing. Everything has gotten all jumbly-wumbly. A person's concern about animal cruelty really can be separate and apart from their also present concern about local gun violence. Cops can, it turns out, be both good or bad, and they are also allowed to be individuals, meaning one bad cop does not condemn an entire profession.
This constant exposure to anger, outrage, shame, indignity, and Kardashians cannot be healthy for any of us. Why, then, do we stick around?
- I stick around because it's where I learn that a fellow set of Cancer Parents who also lost a little daughter to cancer are traveling home from China with their newly adopted daughter.
- I stick around to see how that micro-preemie is doing since she was discharged from the hospital.
- I stick around to celebrate my friend's kids graduating kindergarten and junior high and high school and college.
- I stick around to learn about a mother in Chicago's south side who has created a grassroots band of other mother's who sit in lawn chairs on dangerous street corners every afternoon in an attempt to curb gun violence, believing that no one will shoot a gun under a mother's watchful eye, even if it is not their mother.
- I stick around to share my blog posts that I work hard to ensure are not all doom and gloom and, hopefully, contain words that inspire and help people feel connected to one another.
- I stick around to nurture virtual friendships made with people I would have never, ever encountered in my typical day-to-day life.
- I stick around to keep in touch with cousins that live in Las Vegas and Virginia and Ireland -- folks I might never see again in person, but whom I care about and value and treasure.
- I stick around because a friend in Amsterdam I have only met a handful of times posts some of the most life affirming photos of flowers I have ever seen.
- I stick around because when I am writing a blog post about children's literature, I can tap one of several Facebook friends who just happen to be children's lit authors. How cool is that?
Okay. It's sunshine and lollipops for you, folks, just for slogging through this blog post. No rainbows, though, because Facebook reminds me that rainbows are now considered controversial symbols of the evils of marriage equality, and I am not jumping on that outrage bandwagon.
Facebook isn't always easy, but it is, most likely, how you came to find my words, how you came to learn about my dear daughter Donna, how we manage this connection we have, close or distant, near or far, friend or acquaintance.
Damn you, Zuckerberg, I fear I will never be able to quit you.