So I did it. I finally got around to deleting Facebook. Not our group page, Love for the Maslins, which a friend started for us the day after TC’s assault and which I still use to post occasional brain injury and book updates, but my personal Facebook page – the one I began in 2005 as a 22-year-old who enjoyed posting on people’s “walls” and reveling in party pics the morning after.
It was mostly a symbolic act. After all, as most Facebook users understand, to reactivate an account all you have to do is log back in at your leisure. But deleting Facebook is also an act of spiritual preservation. I can’t remember the last time using Facebook made me feel good about anything. In the two years since American politics started heating up, Facebook’s been mostly a source of tension: trying to figure out how to honestly share my viewpoint while also avoiding divisiveness.
Despite my clumsy attempts toward sincerity, I’ve never felt so insincere about my online interactions. I’ve posted things then deleted them. I’ve decided against posting things I did believe in. And worse yet, I’ve posted things in the arrogant hope that they’d reach certain people’s eyes and minds would be changed.
None of this brought about change on any measurable level. None of this brought me satisfaction, nor made me feel like I was authentically representing myself.
Here’s what I’ve come to accept: I always have been and always will be a political person. When I was 6, I made my dad walk out of a museum fundraiser (that he was hosting) because someone released balloons into the sky. And well, you know, the birds. A few years later, I spent weeks poring over this tiny consumer handbook that showed different companies’ environmental and employment practices and vowed NEVER to eat Dominos Pizza again (I’m sure I’ve reneged that statement at some point since 1992).
I’m imperfect in my activism and sometimes I’m more talk than action, but my passion is persistent. It’s part of who I am. And I’m beginning to see it, the same indignant vulnerability, the same bold-hearted empathy in my son. It’s my job to teach him what to do with it, but the truth is I’m still learning myself.
In this extraordinarily divisive time, we need to think long and hard on this question,
How can each of us authentically express ourselves without hiding from or apologizing for our truths?
Facebook’s done a lot of good in its lifetime. For me, its greatest gift was the therapeutic support system I so desperately needed after TC’s attack. Those little messages and words of encouragement carried me through nearly two years of personal pain. But to use a yoga cliche, it’s OK to take a break from things when they no longer serve you. And that’s where I stand on Facebook right now.
I don’t like the way it makes me feel about myself. I don’t like the way it’s changed my perceptions of others. Maybe I’ll get the recipe I’m searching for ironed out one day soon: that perfect balance of honesty, sharing, light-heartedness, and real stuff. But until then, I hope to spend more time writing, thinking, and just being.
Facebook, all we ever wanted from you was to see how our high school classmates aged
— Faith Salie (@Faith_Salie) March 27, 2018