Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Social Media Hateration

Some days I congratulate myself on how I have crafted my social media apps, especially Facebook.

I think many people underestimate how completely sites like Facebook and Twitter and tumblr and Instagram are customized by each user. People who say they don't like Facebook and get stressed out by the hate or politics or drama in their feed have set it up to see that.

Perhaps they have set up their life the same way. Most of the people I know who complain about drama are the ones who start the drama.

But my point is that anyone who doesn't like those sites have set them up wrong. Facebook will show you baby pictures, football stats, recipes, gossip, Bible verses or boobs, depending on how you have set it up. The days I congratulate myself are the days when something political is happening and I don't see a bunch of hate spewing in my feed. When gay marriage became legal, every post I saw that day was filled with joy and rainbows, but a few friends complained that they saw posts opposed to gay marriage. I didn't have that, because I don't want it.

I am pretty sure I have Facebook friends who oppose gay marriage because of (in my opinion) misguided religious beliefs, but they aren't the type to be all hatery and yelly on Facebook.  If they were, I wouldn't be friends with them, or at least I would hide them.

(I have exactly 211 friends, and most of the people who complain about arguing in their feeds have three or four times that number. That is part of their problem.)

I have unfriended people for being hateful several times. These were not people I was even very close to, so it was no big deal to cut them loose.

The thing that confuses me is that I often see "polite" discussions (on other people's posts) congratulating themselves about being friends with people who have opposing viewpoints. That's what I love about you, they say, we can be friends and have respectful conversations even when we don't agree.

But that seems like such bullshit to me. How can you respect someone's opinion if you disagree with it, really? My friend who admires Caitlyn Jenner having a respectful conversation with her friend who refers to Caitlyn as "it" is confusing me. I don't want to say that they are both full of shit, but they might be. My friend who often posts about how awesome Bernie Sanders is and responds to his friend who still misses George Bush by saying that they will have to agree to disagree and still remain friends may be sincere; maybe the desire to stay connected to this person is more important. But still, I take issue with the word "respect".

How happy was I to find an old friend on Facebook a couple of years ago, a friend who I met in 7th grade in the nearly pointless Gifted program in our rural school system. Despite the fact that she lived several mountains away we made the effort to see each other, and we had so much in common. I had completely lost touch with her after high school.  This is why I love Facebook!

And then a few days ago she posted about President Obama: "yet another bow to kiss the rings (or maybe the behinds) of his Muslim brothers as he sets the U.S. table for them to take over."  And she really, really believes that.  She is a high IQ 50 year old woman who is positive that the president of the United States is a Muslim terrorist. 

I mean, obviously I am aware that Fox news and other similar media outlets spew hateful and obvious lies and that there are plenty of people who believe them. But I don't spend time with those idiots, and somehow seeing it in an old friend is especially upsetting.  And what can I do? Challenge her on it? There is literally nothing real that proves her point in any way, so if she believes it, then she is willfully delusional for whatever emotionally fucked up reason. I can't talk her out of it with reason and facts, because the reason and facts have always been there and she has turned her back on them.

I really want to be kind to people, and people who are living their lives from a place of fear instead of love are the ones who really need some kindness and understanding. Maybe at some point in the far distant future I will be saintly enough to love her in spite of her deliberate ignorance and hate, but it doesn't look like it's going to be anytime today. The closest I can get is Unfollowing her instead of Unfriending her. And even that feels a little hypocritical.