I have to say that I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into joining Facebook. I was perfectly content to get most of my news from television (NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, occasionally CNN, maybe some snarky commentary from John Stewart and Bill Maher). I researched and read up on those issues that interested me on my computer, using Wikipedia as a base, then more technical sources and educational sites to fill out my lack of knowledge on various subjects. It was a happy life until that serpent Facebook entered my peaceful, innocent garden.
Apparently my best friend wasn’t happy with my apathetic failure to appreciate the wonders of Facebook. She kept telling me I was missing out on all the fun, communicating with friends, passing on tidbits of information, playing Candy Crush, and all manner of activities that would enrich my life immensely. I endured this gentle abuse for at least a year or so, believing (in my naïveté) that my life was full enough without Farmville or another casserole recipe. How little I knew then!
Well, I finally eased into Facebook. I found I did enjoy discovering new recipes, and I was able to touch base with people I hadn’t seen since high school. I was enjoying candid photos and information from family and acquaintances; collecting some really good jokes and finding interesting sites to peruse. I even joined Pinterest (another tragic mistake for another time). So far, so good, I thought. Facebook actually can use its powers for good, and not evil. How wrong I was!
That was before the onslaught of the 2012 Election and the Scourge of Fox News! It started innocently enough. Being, as I am, a stickler for correctness and attention to detail, when I spied an erroneous commentary (i.e. “U.S. President is a Kenyan Muslim”, “Jackie Chan Dies in Tragic Fall”, “PETA Clothes Deer in Hunting Vests”), I tried politely (I thought) to point out the fallacy of the assertion and direct the misinformed to conduct further research into the subject. Wrong approach! I soon learned that the misinformed, misguided and deceived enjoy their ignorance and worship those that misguide them into it! What they don’t like is me pointing them in a more enlightened direction; and they not only don’t like it, they have no compunction whatever in pointing out to me that I am a “sheeple” and a “Feminazi”, that I must be disturbed in some way, and that they are allowed their opinions, and if I don’t like it, don’t read their posts and get off their “wall”.
Now, I’m the first to admit I have no understanding of the “friending” process, and I can’t tell if I’m putting something on my “wall” or my “profile”, where my posts end up, or if I’m just babbling to no one in particular. I wasn’t on Facebook long enough to understand all its subtle nuances. I was only able to throw things out there in the vague direction of someone’s “wall” and to hope it would stick. But since most of these people friended me in the first place, why are they so rabidly vehement in insisting that I am polluting their “walls” with my posts? If they are that violently opposed to actually finding out if what they post exists in fact, why don’t they just unfriend me and be done with it? And some have, to the relief of both of us.
Anyway, I continued to voice my opinions, not really knowing if I was polluting my wall or theirs and trying not to be too caustic, but noticing a certain amount of snarkiness creeping into my comments. And it wasn’t only the political situation which annoyed me, it was also the extreme number of ridiculous rumors and out-and-out undocumented allegations that exhausted me. I became a devotee of Snopes.com and Hoax-Slayer.com, sites for debunking web myths and rumors. In between the “Welfare Cadillac” mythology and the “Muslim President” debunking, I noticed a lot of posts regarding giant spiders emigrating from the Amazon and a spurious campaign by atheist Madelyn Murray O’Hare (though dead since 1995) to ban religious broadcasting, among others too numerous and outlandish to list. I began researching in earnest (and in the process, learning more than I ever dreamed I would about gun control, welfare and Barack Obama), but also becoming aware of a sad, but basic truth – people don’t want to be disabused of their ignorance; they hold on to their prejudices tightly. And apparently, all those sweet kids I’d known in high school were big fans of Fox News and The Blaze; not just fans, but mindless, robotically-programmed, hate-spewing, Limbaugh-quoting pit bulls.
But Facebook ripped the veil off stupidity.
Before Facebook, I could maintain this illusion; that people were basically good and honest, that there had been some sort of enlightened progress made since the McCarthy Era. I could delude myself into thinking that mankind would, if pushed to the brink, respond in a fair and intelligent manner, would try to embrace their fellow man and understand the differences between them. But no, Facebook had to bring them right there into my living room, via my laptop, dragging their uninformed opinions and inane prejudices with them to complicate my pristine but naïve existence.
Sadly, Facebook and I have been forced to part ways. I prefer my friends at a polite distance, where all their biases and uneducated attitudes remain in the realm of the unknown (at least, to me). I guess ignorance is bliss, for me, as well as for them.