Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sometimes, you have to ask people to pack up their hate toys and go home...

Facebook has been a wonderful resource for finding long lost friends and reconnecting. It creates the illusion of a smaller community in a world that can overwhelm us with its vastness and speed. In the FB world, you can wave from your window to your neighbor across the street...in Africa. But, it also enables us to peer into people's rooms that we may not want to enter. It can be eye-opening and disappointing, even devastating, to read a post on a friend's wall that diverges so off-course from our own lives that it sits like bile in the pit of our stomachs.

When I first joined, I was caught up in the joy and wonder of connecting with friends. As time has gone on, I've made decisions on who I welcome onto my page, and who I turn away. It is not an entirely comfortable feeling, yet I feel protective, of myself.

It took me a while, but several years ago I realized that I don't have to be friends with everyone. I'm a grown-up, and I can choose who has my heart, who gets to hug me, and who I want to hang out with. Even online.

As is our human nature, we tend to gravitate toward those who think like us, who have mutual interests, shared pasts, or who make us feel good. But, like any delicious dessert, sometimes you take a bite and realize... you just don't want any.

Yesterday was such a day. A friend on Facebook posted this on her wall:

DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN

It both angered and shocked me. The friend is not someone I know all that well. Yet, we share a recent past having spent a lot of time together in a prenatal class during our pregnancies. And, it seemed a natural choice to be Facebook friends, an easy way to share silly stories and pictures of our children. Now I'm not so sure...

Everyone is entitled to post what they want on their FB wall. But, that kind of hate mongering is foreign to me. And, I don't want it in my news feed dipping into my consciousness, messing with my good mojo, that I work so hard to keep on a daily basis. Just reading it, knowing that a friend posted it, makes me feel slimy and unclean.

So, for today, I'm going to take a big breath. And...let it out. Step outside. Take a moment to feel the crisp, clean air on my face that blew in overnight. Later, I will give my children extra hugs. And someday soon, I will tell them that sometimes, you have to ask people to pack up their hate toys and go home...


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19 comments:

barbra said...

That awful statement has been circulating around facebook. ugh, it's horrible.

I said the exact contents of this post to my husband last night, too! I told him I have to Hide people who post things like this; it is really not good for my mental well-being to see such hatred and stupidity. Begone, vile haters!

Looking forward to seeing you tonight!!

Cafe Pasadena said...

I've managed to keep my "Friends" to under a hundred. Everyone should have some criteria for accepting new online friends. At the minimum, mine is people I've actually met or wanna meet who share some core beliefs/interests.

How many other FBkrs can accumulate hundreds and more "Friends", and why, I don't quite get. I don't even want to know that much of my own life! FB has privacy settings which can be applied in various ways.

Being angry with, or judging, God is common. Yet, God is the giver of Life in the 1st place. In these cases their anger or hatred may lead a person to claim no belief in God. That leads to a worse place where there are many, many more difficult questions without satisfactory answers.

J ann L said...

I've been dealing with unfriending people myself. It's hard, but sometimes it's healthier to do so. I look at posts with the notion that my 8-year-old may be reading over my shoulder. If I wouldn't want him exposed to that kind of thought, then I shouldn't be either. Thanks for a great post!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

So well said. I haven't seen that message going around, but I don't hang out too much on Facebook, so maybe I missed it somewhere. (Whew!).

Isn't that the bittersweet of blogging, Facebook, and Twitter? You have uncensored thoughts out there, and sometimes those fresh and unfiltered messages are uplifting, reaffirming, and informative. And sometimes just the opposite. Often negative messages are subtle or there's at least the attempt at some reasoning. But that one? Whether you're an Obama supporter or not, there is nothing redeeming about that message.

Thanks for sharing this.

Jessica Anne said...

Great post! I've certainly been shocked by what my "friends" say on Facebook. It's very eye opening. I, too, Hide people if I see too many hateful posts or other things I find inappropriate. Why is it, as adults, we have such a hard time choosing our friends wisely, even on Facebook?

Jen said...

I've gotten a lot more selective in choosing friendships. I went to a birthday part of my best friend in high school's son last weekend. I was stunned. I could not figure out why I was ever friends with her! Have I changed that much, or has she, I wonder? It's very strange.

Hope you are able to shake off the feeling that "friend"s post left you with.

Jason, as himself said...

Absolutely. Mostly, FB is fine and light hearted and fun. But, yes, sometimes I will read something and just say to myself, "What the hell?" And again, yes, it is the hateful posts that makes me say that.

I'm looking forward to seeing you again tonight!

phd in yogurtry said...

The beauty of un-friending a "friend" is that the ex-friend isn't notified when you do it. They would have to look for you in their friend-list and then notice you're missing. Especially safe for those people who amass thousands of friends.

And I love the way you phrased this, "I don't want it in my news feed dipping into my consciousness, messing with my good mojo." Perfectly expresses how I feel when my happy mojo is penetrated by nastiness.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What really kills me about these anti-Obama things is that I don't remember any of us who were *ahem* less than fond of W. espousing sentiments like that.

Manic Mommy said...

I saw that posted by one of my "friends" - actually the child of a friend of my parents. Rude, toxic, and ignorant. I choose to ignore it lest I lend it credence.

slow panic said...

that's horrible. i've really backed off of FB -- for that reason. my husband is always telling me these crazy things his friends are saying on FB -- stuff like that.

honestly i am more comfortable on twitter because i'm a bit more annonymous.

i just can't deal with those people.

painted maypole said...

i got 2 of those yesterday, as well as getting some before. And you're so right about it being hate. It's not stating a view or disagreeing with someone... it's making a public statement about wishing someone would die. It's not funny. I have blocked a few people because of their constant rude and or mean posts... but the people who have posted this are people I'd like to keep in touch with, and FB is the only way to do. But you have presented an interesting dilemma. I need to think about how to respond to this. Hmmm...

painted maypole said...

i went to the facebook page for that (which people are "liking" and I see it on my newsfeed) and reported it for hate speech. You can, too. Go the page, down at the bottom on the left side hit the "report" link.

when i went there i noticed that some of my friends who had "liked" it yesterday were no longer listed on the page. they must have gotten flack for it and removed themselves. Good.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

A high school "friend" of mine posted the same update the other day. I had the same reaction as you. Then I spent my morning trying to decide to cut her from the list or not and finally chose to "hide" her updates. But I did just recently knock a friend off the list for posting racial remarks about our neighbors south of the border. I was instantly furious.

smalltownmom said...

I hated seeing that, and it was my neighbors, co-workers, accountant!, and high school classmates liking it. I took the high road, and chose the opposite, more positive links. They haven't said a word.

On a brighter note, it was wonderful to meet you last night. And to be at a whole table of similarly-minded people? Priceless.

ruth pennebaker said...

Excellent post, Jennifer. I've only heard of this secondhand, but find it appalling. What I suspect is that some of my extended, highly conservative family might be involved in this; you can un-friend, but how can you un-family?

woman-incorporated.com said...

Ride on. Delete the negative friend. As Adults with families we must be careful of our interactions with friends and colleagues, believe it or not even in adulthood you can still imbibe some unsavory habits or get tainted with negativity. On FB my moto is not to befriend th whole world but to reconnect with some select few friends [after checking up on them and their current affiliations] and link up with a few like minded new ones. I do not believe in the more the merrier. No! No! No!

Life with Kaishon said...

I saw that post on a few status' and it made me sad. I do feel that people with opposing views from the Obama camp would post terrible things about McCain if he was in office... just as they did when Bush was in office. There is always hate.
Sadly. Very sadly. I hope you don't have to see any posts like that for a long time.

Moe said...

Sheesh, this is bad I agree. But what gets me is the pictures people put in their photo albums. It both scares and alarms me.

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