It might be safe to say that 2016, at almost half way through, has been a motherfucker. This year has had no problem with sending a number of beloved actors, artists, musicians and human beings to the river of sticks. Not discounting death to high profile individuals this year has brought a lot of death that has been senseless to say the least. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker there have been over 200 mass shootings in not quite 6 fulls month in the US. Couple all this death with the circus that is the Presidential race and you are creating an environment with so much toxic potential that Troma couldn’t event spin this into a B movie.
I’ve become accustomed to seeing debate on Facebook between people that range from mildly not having a clue about the subject to being 100% ignorant. Dealing with this comes with the territory if you are invested at all in the social media monster. I’ve seen my fair share of hate thinly veiled as conversation between people that I consider friends. But even with all that I was able to put on a smile and keep marching with Zuckerberg’s baby until Orlando.
Sunday, June 12th I woke up to see my feed consumed by a story out of the theme park capital of the world. While information was still being gathered, word was that potentially up to 50 people were dead due to a shooting inside of an Orlando gay bar. As the day went on I saw many stories posted by people, many containing false information that was obviously meant to stir controversy. But while all that happened it was great to see us, as a whole, come together and mourn what became the largest mass shooting in our country’s history. It seemed like we were united in trying to help this city and it’s residents in recovering from such a horrific act. My brother and many friends call O-Town home and for us to be able to show support like this was a wonderful display that can provide in a glimmer of hope in humanity to the most stone cold misanthrope. But then Monday came.
It certainly didn’t take long for the banding together to start to crumble. This heinous act became split into 2 sides and those sides each “knew” that they were right. The topics became about gun control, terrorism, gay rights and conspiracy theories. Almost everyone had an opinion and they were fighting tooth and nail for it. On this day Facebook was no longer fun for me. It was no longer about seeing my friend’s vacation antics, looking at memes or spreading word of events and get togethers; all things that I love about the network. It wasn’t about the people that lost their lives, the people that were hurt or the ones that lost loved ones. No, it became about social issues. It was left vs right. I took all this in and realized that I didn’t want to play anymore. I decided that Facebook and I needed a break.
Look I’m not saying that some of these topics shouldn’t be talked about, they absolutely do, but we need to do it in a different manner. Your opinions and beliefs are important and you are free to believe them but when you have little to know actual knowledge on a subject and begin to fight on one side or the other with the ruthless aggression of a bastard honey badger you are doing more harm than good. This is how misinterpretations, half truths and lies get passed around. If we can be civil and talk about actual facts and data it will lead us on a path to dealing with these social issues in a positive manner. I’ve digressed from the original point of this piece so let me wrangle you all back in.
That following Wednesday I wrote up a little post explaining why I was taking this hiatus from Facebook and decided to let it be. I can’t 100% break off from the book of faces as my job requires me to interact with our page and my podcast still requires me to make posts on there. So the tubes were more tied rather than cut.
It wasn’t an easy break either. You find out how ingrained Facebook has become in your life when you are just going through your phone and opening the app out of habit or starting to type “fac” in your web browser based on muscle memory. I must have inadvertently opened that app at least 5 times a day that first week.
I broke my hiatus on Father’s Day to say a few words about a fellow South Florida craft brewer that lost his life in a car accident the night prior. Other than that I have been back at my hiatus. I get notifications of people tagging me and I admit I peak but then I just close it off and go back to things. And honestly, I think it has made my life a little more enjoyable.
I’ve taken to Instagram to be my social media crutch as I ween myself off the big blue brand. Yes I know they are owned by the same company but I enjoy that Instagram is more about things that people love and have passion for in a manner that’s not so hateful and personally destructive. You don’t see bitter debates with people who only have 25% of the facts. You see pictures that are artfully taken and edited. You see smiling faces of people enjoying the great outdoors, their favorite watering whole or a new taco spot that their friends told them about. Overall it’s a pretty positive vibe and that’s what I need right now. Hell, that’s what a lot of us need right now.
I don’t think I will drop Facebook forever, I just can’t. As I mentioned, I have have ventures that require the use of the platform and I need to post links to my commentaries somewhere for people to actually read. Plus the presidential race will be over soon and everyone will simply go back their cat memes, restaurant check ins and TV show discussions. It’s only a matter of time before I come crawling back but I will certainly enjoy my time away.