Being a progressive humanist in a religiously fundamental and politically conservative community I have learned to expect and live with a fair amount of ignorance from my neighbors and my own family. For many years, to keep the peace, I mostly remained silent. I don't recall a defining, pivotal moment when that changed, but over time it did.
Being "different" from most of the people I know, or that I am related to, has kept me deliberately distant and I've tried, sometimes with great difficulty, to keep my opinions to myself. And then along came Facebook.
Like most everyone, I joined Facebook intending to connect with people I care about. While I disagree with most of these people on just about everything imaginable and I don't regularly associate with them and rarely attend family or social functions, I do care about them.
I like seeing pictures of new babies and hearing about the good things that are happening in their lives. I care about their heartbreaks and hardships as well and try to be helpful in my comments, if I comment at all, when my cousin live posts the breakup of her marriage or my uncle shares a play-by-play, with actual color photos, of his colonoscopy. (He was awake you know!)
Unfortunately, that Facebook doesn't exist anymore - if it ever existed at all outside of my imagination. Shortly after I joined Facebook, my newsfeed was hijacked by annoying cryptic cliffhangers like, "Whoot! Whoot! Good news!" which appears to be a secret they can't just come out and say. Invariably there is an immediate barrage of questions and requests for information that the poster uses to slowly unfurl the details of this mysterious good news in the comment section, proving that he could talk about, in fact wanted desperately to talk about it, but just wanted to be begged to talk about it first. Usually the news ends up being not so much of a secret like the cousin, mentioned above, is finally divorced (after posting she was getting a divorce for weeks, who would know this would end in divorce? Or it turns out to be something completely un-newsworthy like the dog being potty trained. Whoot! Whoot!
In the same post genre is the equally annoying and attention craving, "Ughhhh!!!! I'm done!" or variations thereof which begs the question, "Done with what?" Your master's thesis? Your breakfast? Your first bowel movement after an agonizing bout of constipation? Whatever is aggrieving a Facebook friend that makes such a post, especially if it is the latter, expect every minute, tantalizing detail to be slowly released in the comments section. All you had to was ask.
Then there are the insipid food updates three times a day, sometimes with a bonus update for healthy snacks, and the endless string of philosophical and religious nuggets that are more often than not misquoted or misattributed, several cringe-worthy duck-faced selfies per day, the continuous posting of one's current location for no other reason than posting one's current location, "Sam is at Harley-Davidson in Indianapolis," "Sam is at Cracker Barrel," "Sam is at Hooters," "Sam is at Hi-Way Liquor Store," "Sam is at Home," "Sam is at Home Drinking a Beer in Bed Alone Watching SpongeBob on Saturday Night." Sam is obviously an attention whore who thinks that his most mundane activities are of interest to the world at large. And last but not least, the endless Facebook call for prayer warriors.
Before I'm accused of bashing prayer, let me be clear that if you are a believer in the power of prayer, that is fine with me. I will always respond to a prayer request regarding some misfortune, an illness or tragedy with a note expressing my condolences or that I am thinking of that person in their time of need. However, the following are actual prayer requests that I have seen posted in the past few weeks.
"Pray for me and my kids in court today," from my cousin who has temporarily lost custody of her three youngest children because she left them them in the car for an hour while she was in Walmart.
"Pray for me to find a job," posted by a young man I know that has been fired from 3 good jobs in the last year because he can't get to work on time.
"Pray for our dog - she's having puppies!" Really?
"Pray for our softball team. We want to go to sectionals!"
"Pray for this critically wounded child shown in this horrific photograph that was "lifted" off the internet without permission and is being used to exploit the ignorant into believing that if they pray hard enough and share the meme enough Mark Zuckerberg will personally donate and deliver a million dollars to her family in a Blackhawk helicopter next month during the meteor shower when there will be five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays which only happens every 857 years!"
Alright, I may have embellished that last one - but only a little.
As frivolous as these posts are, they don't even compare to what I call the "Blackmail" posts. "If you don't like and share this__then you are this__"
Click like to Support our Troops! If you don't you must Hate America!
Share this if you Agree that Gun-grabbing, mass-murdering Obama, aka Barry Soetoro, a muslim-atheist-socialist-fascist-communist-marxist-stalinist-racist, illegal Kenyan is destroying America as we know it and infringing upon our FREEDOM!!!!! If you don't like and share, you not only hate America, you hate Jesus and are going to burn in Hell for ETERNITY!!!!
Although Facebook seems determined to undermine my filtering decisions through the incessant tweaking of algorithms, I've learned, over time, who are the worst offenders of my patience and have been somewhat successful at keeping most of this drivel filtered out. Unfortunately, that last example was something similar to a post that was shared by my dad. I know, feel my pain.
Without outright blocking my own father, I have to deal with this on a daily basis. For a while I thought that gently correcting some of the most egregious errors would help. I tried to explain to him what he was posting was contradictory and why. I tried to explain that there are certain websites that are less than reliable sources of information. I tried to explain who and what agenda lies behind the vast majority of the lies he was re-posting. I tried to no avail.
You can't make someone understand that Kenya wasn't even a country yet when Obama was born to dispute the validity of a badly photoshopped foreign birth certificate if he doesn't want to understand. He won't believe it because it undermines his entire spoon-fed, Fox News conspiracy ladened worldview.
The arguments and hard feelings are not worth it to me. I keep off off Facebook as much as possible and out of my 280 friends, I have less than 20 that are not restricted from my newsfeed in some way.
Some use the Facebook List feature to organize interests, hobbies and news, I use it to organize my family and friends.
I used to have separate lists for friends and family labeled Racists, Misogynists, Gun-Nuts, Tin-Foil Hat Conspiracists and Fundamental Religious Fanatics. Then I got smart and lumped them all together in a new list labeled "Republicans."
So, there you have it. Something I've learned. How to use the Facebook List feature effectively.
Have to run now....it's almost time to post pics of my healthy snack.
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