Many of you probably didn’t even notice, or if you did, didn’t think much of it.
But I’ve been slowly distancing myself from Facebook.
I like to keep up with everyone, but at a certain point, it began to bring a lot of pain and frustration.
There were two main reasons:
1) Shiny, Perfectly Happy Lives
2) Nasty Incendiary Dehumanizing Comments
1) Shiny, Perfectly Happy Lives
I’m incredibly happy for the dozen or so women in my circle of friends who are pregnant right now. I’m excited about their futures, their children, all of it. I love them, so I celebrate with them.
But each post about each stage of their pregnancies – or the pregnancies of their friends, which seem to be shared regularly as well – is quite painful for me. Because we have also been trying, but having no success.
Some of them have done me the courtesy of joining with me in my journey, praying for me, giving me a personal call or message before the glorious announcements on FB. But most of them haven’t.
But what made it worse was some of the comments I received when I shared my hurt with others – “Get over it, be happy for them, it just takes time.” Or “Just because you’re having a hard time doesn’t mean you get to kill their joy.” The general consensus was that if I was hurting, it was because I was selfish and a bad person – that I should just suck it up, and pretend that everything was ok so that the other person wouldn’t feel awkward.
And 85% of the time, I’m content to rejoice with those who rejoice. But what ever happened to the other half of the equation? What happened to mourning with those who mourn?
Why shouldn’t someone feel awkward about making a broad impersonal pregnancy announcement to people, knowing that one in four women has suffered a miscarriage? That’s part of living in a society in which we care for one another, and share in one another’s burdens.
It’s like I’m shamed and guilty because I’m hurting – because it is difficult. Maybe I’m not the most gracious loser, but perhaps there is a space for gracious winners as well.
I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, posting uber-happy reports without considering how others might find it.
But there is also this shame and stigma – especially around the area of infertility & miscarriage – that we don’t talk about and we don’t even have any language to understand or express what the pain is like. And society as a whole would much rather celebrate little babies than sit in the dust with those of us without. So perhaps those of us in pain need to be more honest about what we are experiencing. Perhaps we need to communicate more clearly our struggles and frustrations.
That’s what I’m trying to do a little bit here.
I know that many of my single friends feel the same way about weddings.
I know that people I know without jobs feel the same way about promotions.
I know that people in financial hardship don’t like seeing the posts about new purchases and vacations.
For every cause to celebrate, we have people in our community who are struggling with the opposite.
For every pregnancy, there is barrenness.
For each promotion, there is someone under the stress of a pink slip.
For those in flourishing, there are those in hardship.
But it is much easier on FB to just shine the happy light all the time. I’m pretty guilty of this as well. But perhaps our dialogue needs to remember that there are humans in our midst online. As a guy said in a video I posted earlier today – “insert a little humanity into our corner of the internet.”
I think it’s important to rejoice with those who rejoice – and I do it about 85% of the time. But I think I’d really appreciate it if sometimes people would remember to mourn with those who mourn. Sometimes, I would really love for my friends to come and sit with me in the dust – recognizing that this season isn’t as easy for me. Some of my friends are amazing at this. And I’m grateful for them.
I just ask that perhaps in the future we consider those things as well. Remember the people behind the posts.
2) Nasty Incendiary Dehumanizing
With the election coming up, it’s gotten worse, but it’s already been horrific. With dozens of different causes or protests or campaigns, the primary language of the people is slander. The things coming out of other people’s mouths are horrific and dehumanizing.
The Pro-Life people dehumanize the Planned Parenthood people, and then the rhetoric comes right back and nobody is really being ‘tolerant’ anymore.
The War on Women dehumanizes women, but then we dehumanize the male lawmakers who are perpetrating the injustice.
Democrats dehumanize the Republicans, and nasty tidbits get flung around like excrement.
My faith gets slandered, but it’s ok, because it’s ok to slander my faith these days. My friends justify it by saying “but it’s not *your* faith we’re criticizing” – but it is, because it’s my community, my tradition.
There are people behind these labels.
We go in nasty little circles, and have completely lost any sense of simply honor, dignity and respect for one another. The way that we say things to one another would never fly in person, but we don’t care, because we have to “win” the argument on Facebook.
I just can’t be part of these discussions anymore. It breaks my heart to see Christians crucifying non-believers online, while my liberal ‘tolerant’ friends crucify my faith. It hurts me to see men and women slinging hatred at each other instead of working together to find a solution. It is tragic that people with different economic ideas cannot work together and try to find common ground instead of demonizing those who disagree.
All in all, both reasons boil down to a recent deterioration of humanity online. And as a peace-builder, a peace-maker, someone who loves peace in all its forms and theological depth and complexity, I just cannot participate in it fully anymore.
I hope, if nothing else, that this can inspire you to think a bit more clearly and regularly about the people behind the posts. The men and women who are diverse and lovely. The ones who have rich lives that deserves our honor and respect – even if we disagree with them.Read More
Over the next month, you’ll see a bit more activity on the site. As I’ve committed to NaNoWriMo and finished my final academic piece, I’m now set to pursue my passion like my derriere is on fire. It’s taken me a while to realize that this is one of the things that I was born to do – because I can’t *not* do it. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. I love the sound of my fingers clacking on the keyboard, the scratch of a pen on paper. It’s all part and parcel.
I’ve decided, in full awareness of my own limitations and tendencies to procrastinate, that I will begin with regular posts on something I recently found called the Holstee Manifesto. I know it’s been out for at least two years, but it only recently entered my inbox. This manifesto reminded me of so many of the things that I remind myself of every day. So, I hope you come back and join us for the journey. I know I’m looking forward to it.
This post was part of the 300words experiment. Since I usually took one day off for ‘Sabbath’, there were times I would write 600 words about a particular person. This lovely woman has been in my life for over fifteen years, and plays an integral part in my story.
As you can tell by the date-stamp, this post is early on in my exploration of writing about myself. It’s campy, and a bit overly enthusiastic. But I learned about myself writing about her. I think in many ways that practice here is making my writing more perfectly me. Sure, this is all over the place, but it’s true. So I’ll freshen it up, and perhaps provide a few more details about this moment, then we’ll see what we can see.
The first time I saw her, I must admit, my perception was a bit skewed. Now, that probably had to do with the fact that I was in some of those ‘college experimental’ times, and the reality was that the whole world was very pretty, extraordinarily shiny, and hyper colourful. Take that as you will. I was sitting with a friend at the weekly Saturday party at the Woolsey House in Berkeley (known for its attraction of Goths, dosers, drinkers, Rocky fans, and various other non-traditional party people). I looked up and saw a woman emerge from the kitchen in a long flowing dress, and I thought two things. First, she looked like an angel. Second, she looked sad. I wasn’t sure if she was real, so I asked my friend, “Who’s that? She’s so pretty but she looks so sad!” He responded, “That’s Faith. She is a little sad.” So my instant response was, “Well, then we should fix that.” So we did. I never would have imagined that evening that fixing that would involve a sneaky undercover operation to break into her previous apartment in order to steal a cat, or a princess and the pea bed that would be halfway to the ceiling in a small apartment, or all the various other adventures that we went on, but it did.
As time went on, as it always does, we began to go separate ways. She got all responsible and I went a bit mad. We would bump into each other at various times with mutual friends, but I can still remember the first time I eversaw her fire-dance. Faith is an exquisitely and exceptionally beautiful woman, with a striking figure and some of the most long, amazing hair you’ve ever seen. When she lights those poi on fire, it’s a hypnotic thing. It was a friend’s wedding, and the evening was full of life and love and friendship. And then Faith – who had seemed very distant, started to dance. It was as if the fire had a life of its own. At times it would send little flickers of itself off into the night sky, to float up and away. At other times, she would be surrounded by a blazing halo of the retinal after-burn of the flames. But it reminded me of that beautiful, sad lady I first saw. It reminded me of how I knew the moment that I saw her that I loved her and wanted her to be happy.
When she came to Dublin, we had so many good adventures. It was like time had rewound and all those years had come racing back. And I remember sitting in Doolin, in McGann’s Pub, just laughing and enjoying each other. And having one too many pints. And having to saunter vaguely homewards with Wingnut the cat. And we looked up at the stars and the moon, and the world between us was right all over again.