I joined Facebook back in 2009. My son was a junior in high school and told me I could join this site and reconnect with friends and family from back home. It was awesome to create my profile and within just a few minutes reconnect with childhood friends that I hadn’t seen since graduation. Since I had moved away in the early 90s, it was also a great way to connect with my family and stay up to date on their lives. We shared stories about growing up in the small town of Lacon, Illinois and even planned a reunion during our town’s annual festival. It was a lot of fun! For me, Facebook was about connecting with those I was far away from at the time. When I would receive requests from friends and co-workers locally, I always laughed and said, “Why would I want to friend you on Facebook, I see you every day!”
Fast forward to 2013 when I became a yoga teacher and a business owner. Facebook became all about marketing. In every seminar or workshop, social media was the focus of business marketing. It is where everyone gets their information, so you’d better get a big following if you want to succeed. So, I created a page and started posting and sharing about yoga and my teaching schedule. Soon enough I was getting friend requests from people I didn’t even know just so they could find my business on FB. I even had one “friend” tell me that I wouldn’t be successful or credible if I didn’t have a certain number of likes on my page. I saw other studios with 1000s of likes, clearly not all students, but potentially I suppose they could be. It just felt like connecting with people just to have a ton of followers defeated the purpose of truly connecting with people.
Through the years, Facebook and other forms of social media have taken on a different role in our daily lives. In my observation, it has drifted away from “connecting” to more of “disconnecting”. We friend someone, see their posts, pictures of their life and then “unfollow” them if we aren’t interested in what they have to say or dislike their opinion. In some cases, we feel it’s our duty to change them or influence them to believe how we believe by posting meme’s or sharing click bate that half the time isn’t even true. In the last year, I’ve watched people post things that were clearly meant to hurt or anger. I’ve watched arguments erupt and name calling. Oh, yes I know you can hide it! But to hide it you must see it first. For me, it’s just become too much. It hurts my heart to see people that I like hide behind a keyboard to say something in a mean-spirited way. We cannot live life through a meme. I have been the target of those memes before and it’s hurtful.
I’m sure many who happen to read this might agree with me and still many will feel like I am trying to take away their “diet coke” and become defensive. Our defensiveness holds many truths. Facebook has shown me the true divisiveness that we are living right now in this country. It shows me that when people can hide behind their keyboard they are more comfortable posting hate. Things they probably would never say to someone standing in front of them. Why is it that we can’t have a difference of opinion or a disagreement, apologize like adults and accept that the opposite of what you believe is also true to the other person. Now we are more likely to run to Facebook and post a meme of a voodoo doll that says, “Thinking of You.”
My hope is that through all things we can come together. Maybe I'm naive. It’s time to UN-Tuck the Fringe. Go against the norm and connect with the people in your life today, in the flesh! And if you’ve have regretted a post or an exchange with someone on social media, UN-Tuck the Fringe and apologize and move forward from a place of compassion and peace. Change begins within.