This NYT piece was recently posted by a friend who uses meta-communication in a nuanced way, even though the article is, gasp, from 2014. How unhip and anti-immediate, to the point of being totally non-viral.
Social media, especially something like Facebook, for those who do not mask themselves or engage in life behind pseudonyms, can be a sad and tumultuous business. So why do we do continue to tweet, post, and generally live in the land of memes? At one level it is because it is easy, and at another level it is horrendously difficult.
I first used Facebook to connect and engage with fellow peace activists and other bleeding edge street theater producers and actors. The rah-rah, me-too nature of social media was one of the things I liked about staying connected with the beautiful, most often sisterly, souls I came to know during short, often intense moments in the trenches of social justice movements. Facing off against masked (shielded visor) and armored storm troopers engenders the same sort of camaraderie soldiers know. We came from and returned to communities scattered across the US where we were unlikely to ever meet in real life. Sharing stories and information with these women does validate and reinforce some of my core beliefs; it lets me know I am not alone.
Then friends I grew up with, many who still live in the small, Bible-belt, conservative farming and non-unionized factory town in which I grew up joined Facebook. These are people I met when I first went to school: grade-school and high-school friends. Some never left the area and live within 5 miles from where they lived as kids. Some left and returned. Some left. Some died. Far too many killed themselves.
Then there is the husband thing, and the extended family thing. There is no way to lump these dear people into one group.
My husband is a freaking neuro-chemist type academic type person. He is brilliant, yes, and he mediates a 5000 member person Facebook group from HIS hometown. He walks a time-space-warped fence-top between the “Hooligan Heights” neighborhood in which he grew up and the ETH in Zurich where he did his post-doctoral training.
My step-daughter’s in-laws are able to travel to the far corners of the world for vacations and have an ease of life financially that I cannot fathom. I come from a large family that included NASA scientists, physicians, felons and pole-dancers when I look to the circle of relation that includes mother’s brothers, cousins and the children of siblings.
To say I have a diverse perspective is probably an understatement.
Most sane people would not try to have an open feed on their Facebook page, which I do, more or less.
I am a writer – not the most successful or widely read writer, true, but a writer none-the-less. I am able, for some reason unbeknownst to me, to convey a personal viewpoint with some nuance and skill. There really are things which if I do not say them, will not be said. Perhaps this is just a delusion of grandeur, but I do not think so. So I say them. My life is rich and I am blessed with a facile mind. So I share my experience as best I can.
I am honest, even about my inconsistencies. I am an anthropologist who has some specialization in how meaning is constructed. I think I confuse people. I have not achieved a Quaker-level practice of peace, calmness and integration.
I still try to explain. I am trying to learn how to not over-explain. I still believe that if people are open they can learn. I have not given up on humanity. I value my friends, and the connections that created the friendships.
I tend to only engage to the point where I piss people off, if I care about them. The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. Do I piss you off on Facebook? It is because I love you. I will try to say nothing to hurt you. If you say things that are hurtful, I will not ignore them. Achieving some level of sanity and self-value requires that I not allow you to hurt me, or others, or yourself.
This was fueled by one of those Facebook posts.