I haven’t blogged in months. I’ve been busy with things like my third pregnancy, working, mothering, being broke, trying to harness some control over my life, and trying not to lose my shit at the world every day. I have made some half-hearted attempts at writing, online and offline, on computer and on paper, but most of the words have stayed in my head, and the conclusion I have come to is that I have no one to blame but myself for being a writer who doesn’t write.
But it’s November and I want to do something about that. Last November I wrote a novel in 30 days when I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month); this year I am not quite as ambitious and will instead go for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). So my intention is to blog every day for the month of November.
Last night I deleted the Facebook app off my iPhone. That was big, even though I still have access to Facebook on my computer – it’s just that I use my computer much less than my phone. I am a pretty avid Facebooker. I’m able to keep up with people who are important to me, have interesting conversations, and remain somewhat involved in the world despite the isolation of being at stay-at-home (daytime) parent. There are definite downsides to being so connected, though, and I have become acutely reacquainted with them.
The election is next week, and things have been ugly for months. Facebook has become an ugly place, where people can post whatever they want about whoever they want with no regard for anything but their own misconceptions. Complex issues have been reduced to memes. Lies have been spread. There’s talk about what a horrible state our country is in. There are those who want to lay the blame at the feet of one or two people. There are those who point the finger at everyone who thinks differently and label them ignorant, without any regard for their own ignorance. People I care about do these things, these hurtful and misguided things. It’s an awful feeling to come face to face (virtually) with people you love and respect and see a stranger instead. For me, it challenges my entire worldview.
I’m kind of a Pollyanna, to be honest. I don’t like to think badly of others; in fact, I believe most people are good. I give others the benefit of the doubt. I make a real effort to be understanding and compassionate instead of dismissive. In fact, I tend to give others more free passes than I give myself.
The kind of behavior I’ve seen, though, is hard to grant a free pass to. It’s hard to excuse bigotry and willful ignorance. My frustration at having to hear yet another person refer to Barack Obama as a Communist/socialist/Nazi/Marxist/fascist/dictator (for example) finally got the best of me. Two days ago, I found myself completely frazzled over Sandy, the storm that has devastated some parts of the East Coast, along with the normal political commentary, and as the day wore on, I began to have trouble breathing. I felt a heaviness in my chest that went far beyond the normal pregnancy shortness of breath. It happened again yesterday, and I went to see the doctor. There are no real signs of anything physically wrong with me (other than a slightly elevated heartbeat), so the diagnosis was typical pregnancy hyperventilation combined with some anxiety.
I have been anxious for a long time, actually, and there are many reasons why, and one of them is Facebook. Facebook is a forum for people to say whatever they want. Free speech! Yay, right? Well, right, except when you use your right to free speech to tell lies and spread intolerance and bigotry. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: just because you can say anything you want doesn’t mean you should.
It is extremely difficult for me to believe that people I love and respect are capable of spreading malicious lies, that critical thinking has been thrown aside in favor of one-dimensional, black-and-white approaches to the world and the species within it.
I am terribly disappointed in some of the behavior I’ve seen on Facebook.
To the point of not being able to sleep at night. To the point of having to reduce communication with certain people. To the point of (possible) anxiety attacks.
And it’s not worth it. Hence the Facebook app deletion. A first step that I suppose could lead to a lengthy deactivation if I need it to. Imagine what I could do if I re-harnessed some of that emotion I’ve been putting into Facebook and put it here instead? Or on paper? I imagine what I could be capable of if I remove my own negative energy from the equation. I could write something. Something good, maybe. Or maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s the doing that matters.
Here we go. Day 1 of doing something different.