I try to be open-minded and polite, especially on Facebook (FB). I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that the toxic politics of our country have trickled down to this popular social media platform. Many are abandoning FB to take a break from this daily horrifying sh*t show, or perhaps because they don’t trust Facebook. I get it. When I can only read a few posts without anger or depression (not to mention FOMO) infecting me, I wonder why I bother. Still wondering!
I previously hadn’t blocked any of my FB friends for a couple of reasons:
- Sometimes I get perverse pleasure from seeing their posts, that in my opinion, are way off base and often untrue. I can waste time wondering what happened to the person I thought I knew and liked from my former job (she seemed so harmless as she scheduled appointments and answered the phone). What happened to the nice girl with scoliosis that I knew slightly in high school? Just 50 years ago! I know this is not a healthy approach, but I do it anyway.
- The other reason is that I want to think I’m open-minded enough to see an alternative point of view without getting heartburn, but I may be wrong about that. The thing I am not open minded about though is cruelty, intolerance, and racism. This person managed to hit all three of these buttons with one meme. I am aware that I have probably already been blocked by this particular “friend,” so I’m sure she won’t even miss the fact that I no longer give a token “like” to the latest sunset photo taken from her beach front property. I can live without another sunset over the ocean pic.
On the plus side, I don’t take to task these “friends” who share their misguided and disagreeable political posts–these are no-win situations. I usually reserve my ire-sharing for the antivaxers, people who buy dogs from pet stores, and those who complain about our city (and don’t even live here!). Most of these folks aren’t hostile.
What all this reveals about me is that I care too much about other people’s opinions, that I want to be liked by people I barely know, which should not affect me at all. And, I want them to share my views. Ridiculous! They, after all, are entitled to their party alliances as I am entitled to mine. The scenarios I have described above do not represent my better self; the person I want to be and could be with a bit more effort. But, I also know my limits and understand that not everyone needs to be part of my online life. The number of online friends I maintain is no reflection of my self-worth. Finding the balance between exposure to new ideas and exposure to negativity is key, but the line is often wiggly and faint. I have to determine for myself where the line is and then draw that line as straight and true as I can manage.
All these dynamics flow over into my creative life as well. How far should I push my inspiration? I know, we are only talking about crocheted hats or embroidery, not a painting or sculpture, but fiber happens to be my media! I sometimes decide to be bold with my designs and then fret about being laughed at, misjudged, or seen as slightly unhinged. And, of course, there is also the practical side: No one will buy these crazy creations (see above). Silencing the internal naysayer and fighting the desire to hold back occupies more of my internal life than I would like.
I don’t know if anyone else shares my feelings, but if you do, take some time to read this beautiful and honest piece of writing by Lacy M. Johnson. Her bravery and way with words energized me. Approval is not necessary for a fulfilling life. Living honestly absolutely takes courage, but I hear that effort is well worth it. I’m going to give it a try.