Why I Left Facebook at the End of the Year

Each of my WordPress followers pressed the “follow” button for a slightly different reason. When I follow someone it is because I have found their writing interesting or motivating in some way and I want to keep track of them and be able to read more of their content. When I think that this is the reason someone follows me, I feel strangely moved. There are days when writers need to be reminded that someone really does care and wants us to write more and will be looking for our content.

I had a very meaningful time on Facebook for many years. It was a place where I felt I could go to be encouraged. People on Facebook cared. And I cared about them. I tried to post encouraging comments. I “liked” numerous posts. And my friends were very responsive and kind.

I have moved a number of times and Facebook became the place to keep in touch with people I no longer saw in person. I considered myself to be very blessed with my group of friends. Oh, it was an odd mix, but I loved it. A few friends didn’t agree with my political leanings and challenged me from time to time and I enjoyed the fact that they expressed alternate views. I reexamined my points of view. It forced me to look at what I believed from a different perspective.

My tendency was to share links to relevant news and often I added a paragraph of commentary. Many of my friends frequently expressed their appreciation for this as I pulled up pieces that weren’t commonly seen by everyone. However, I began to notice that I was no longer getting responses to my posts. I decided to do a survey of my friends and discovered that my closest friends were not seeing my posts. I began to suspect that Facebook did not like what I was posting and was reducing my distribution. When I mentioned this to my husband he thought I was making it up, so I kept watching and eventually I got the confirmation from Facebook itself. According to them I was posting false news. One piece of “false news” was a link to a letter that 500 scientists sent to the United Nations, claiming that climate change science is complex and we do not know the exact correlation between human activity and climate change. I was told by Facebook that if I continued to post this type of “false news” I would see my “overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways.” But they had already done this to me for a year or longer.

If you say anything that questions the current politically correct dialogue–and I tend to do this–then you are labelled as a false prophet, in other words. There are names the politically correct side has for you. These are conversations you are not allowed to have. I am not even talking about whether, or how much, climate change is impacted by human activity. I just want to give both sides the opportunity to speak. But today we are in a society where this kind of dialogue is no longer allowed–not even on Facebook–and Facebook is going to enforce this. It is not only Facebook, however. When I went back to the original site on Google where I obtained the article, it was blocked.

I never considered myself as a threat before, but apparently I am a threat to Facebook. One day Facebook stopped me from posting a link to an article written by a doctor about how doctors suffer as a result of not being able to be open about their struggles. It looked like a harmless article to me but I received a pop-up that said: Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other persons on Facebook have reported as abusive. You can find it at this site. It is entitled The Conspiracy of Silence (World Mental Health Day).

In a way, Facebook ultimately succeeded in silencing me completely because I left Facebook. But I was silenced on Facebook for a long time before that. After a decade or so on Facebook I know my friends and it is not normal for me to have ten posts that have no response at all from any readers. And this happened again and again. Several times I did a survey and the result was the same. My friends had not seen my posts. They had no idea what I had been posting during the week.

Some person or algorithm did not like me so it silenced me, and very effectively. I finally became weary of it and I went off of Facebook.

But I do not believe we ought to be silent. The article I tried unsuccessfully to post, that was written by the doctor, contained this quote, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” – Elie Wiesel. We cannot remain indifferent. We need to find creative and effective ways of expressing our views, while practicing patience and tolerance with those who oppose us.

I think it is extremely saddening that a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, godmother, and friend has to leave behind all of her dear contacts because the mail carrier reads her mail and deems it not fit for distribution.

Finding focus

In recent weeks I have had an obsession with getting my house organized. I feel I need to do this so that I can focus. This has extended to cleaning up my blogs as well.

I can relate to the article, Lifestyles of the (semi)Disconnected by Angela Parker on her site, theunconventionalhousewife.com. To de-stress, Angela cut social media from her life. She now finds time to read books, hang out with family and pursue artistic activities.

I have not been as ruthless or radical as Angela in terms of eliminating all of my social networks. Some months ago I discontinued LinkedIn because of spam mail I was getting. As far as Twitter goes, I saw from the beginning that it would be a constant distraction so I dropped out. Pinterest looked like it could be very consuming so I never subscribed.

But I am still connected to Facebook. I have a lot of friends and family that don’t live nearby and with whom I value  making occasional contact on Facebook. I admit that I have to sift through a lot of chaff for the wheat, so to speak, but so far it is worth it for me.

Today, in my effort to become more focused, I deleted three of my websites. One was a collection of interesting trivia, another, a photography site, and the third , a place where I wrote the occasional article. It was a little painful, the letting go part, but I feel it is necessary.

I compare my life with a smorgasbord where there are numerous items to sample. For years I have enjoyed the selection but currently I am driven to simplify and define what it is I value.

How does a person go from smorgasbord to specialty? It almost seems like my brain isn’t wired that way. Yet the possibility is beginning to capture my imagination.