Dear Facebook friend,
here is why I am unfriending you. I know, I know, we’ve shared some fun banter over the years, we’ve liked each others’ posts, and you’ve even wished me happy birthday once or twice. It’s the stuff you post, though. It really pushes all of my buttons.
Look, I’m a big enough person to scroll past a few racist, bigoted, or otherwise misinformed posts. If I wasn’t, I’m sure I’d end up in a basement somewhere, swigging Mountain Dew and hammering aggressively on my keyboard in a rage induced panic. But here’s the thing-sometimes it seems like there is no accountability on Facebook. Anyone can post some rubbish about vaccines causing autism, or tumeric curing cancer, or All Of The Muslims coming to impose Sharia Law in Australia imminently — and no one calls this stuff out.
Would we call out such ignorance in real life, I wonder? Would I call you out if you started talking to me in real life about how Australia is spending all of our money on overseas aid, while our veterans languish in gutters? Would I whip out a few statistics on how, actually, our overseas aid budget is the lowest it’s been in years? (*eye roll*) Would we end up passive aggressively showing each other links and news articles that support our own position? I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t do this in real life. I’d probably just raise my eyebrows, and wind up the conversation quickly with as much tart politeness as I could muster. We just don’t have conversations like that in ‘real life’, because it would be quite rare to share such opinions with a relative stranger. And we are relative strangers, aren’t we? I can’t even remember…. you’re one of the mums from my kids’ school, right? Or maybe one of my old school mates. Oh, I think I’ve got it now. You’re the slightly odd person that I chat with occasionally down at the farmers’ markets. That’s how we know each other in real life, right?
Here’s the thing that scares me though. Facebook now is real life. It’s a part of the world we live in, along with the other social media platforms and the rest of the gigantic sprawling beast that is the internet. It’s changing the way we interact with people, and it’s changing our society. And as much we all say that we’d like to move to a deserted cabin in the wilderness somewhere without an internet connection-we’re not going to do that. Plus I’m sure even in the wilderness, there’s wifi.
I guess for a while there, I decided that it was my duty to point out when people were sharing half truths, or total fake news. I’d post links to Snopes articles on why your post was a hoax, or politely point out the factual errors. I’d suggest some extra reading material that might help, if you were interested in maybe learning where you’d gone wrong. Remember when I did that to a few of your posts? Fun times, right? Ha. I know Facebook can become a giant echo chamber of your own viewpoints, biases, and opinions, and I didn’t want that to happen to you. I was going to single handedly save the world. Well, I would if I had more time. Plus, you know, my blood pressure…
It didn’t work, did it? Not at all. Usually, you’d ignore me, and sometimes your more extreme friends would jump in to support you. I kinda thought you’d appreciate if someone showed you the error of your ways. Maybe even thank me and delete the offending post. But this wasn’t the case. Huh.
I guess that deep down, we’re both motivated by fear, that powerful bitch. You’re motivated by the fear of refugees overrunning our shores, taking all of our jobs, forcing our children to wear burkas and stop praying at school. Or maybe it’s big Pharma that you fear is taking over, or the Illuminati. I can’t keep up. I’m motivated by the fear that ignorance and bigotry will win, that we’ll slowly become like those people who voted Trump in, and who support Pauline Hanson’s policies. We’ll all wander around eating Big Macs, with our unvaccinated children, who are lathered in coconut oil and wearing ‘Love it or Leave’ t shirts. Yep, ridiculous right? And the thing is, I’m beginning to think that we’re both wrong. I think that, perhaps, the future is brighter than we both expect.
So here goes. I’m going to click unfriend, leaving you to the echo chamber of those who share your views. I’m sure you won’t even notice I’m gone. As for me-well, my kids have been suspiciously quiet for a while now. For starters, I’d better go and make sure they haven’t systematically destroyed something priceless and irreplaceable. Then I have to go and feed the calves. Did you know that I’m bottle feeding four orphaned calves? This is the sort of thing that we would probably talk about, in the ‘real world’. Then I might do some gardening. It’s good for the soul. I’ll save my rants for the grasshoppers and that fat little calf called Ferdinand who likes to head butt the milk bottle. Perhaps I’ll stay off Facebook for a while. I’ll try Instagram–I hear they have better pictures. All the best.
Your vague acquaintance and former Facebook friend.