Goodbye Facebook, It was fun while it lasted

 

A month or so now, I finally cracked something I’d tried and failed many times before – I quit Facebook.

True, it took a traumatic breakup of a friendship to make this happen. But every cloud and all that.

This morning, it being my birthday, I cynically sneaked a peep to see if I got one of those digital balloony greetings things (I didn’t; I forgot that I don’t have my birthday on my profile anymore to avoid the data harvesting that I used to think was me being paranoid…ha ha, thanks Cambridge Analytica).

The thing is, I realised, that for me Facebook has turned from that friend who loved me and made me feel good about yourself, to one who is constantly sniping at me and who you leaves me with that sinking anxiety feeling every time we have coffee. And yet, it’s also that one friend who holds the key to so many others. Breaking off this relationship would be social suicide. Or would it?

Here’s a few things I miss, and those I don’t, about the most enduring of the social networks.

I miss my comedy group. I set this up a year or so ago, and have made some lovely real-life friends through it.

I miss an occasional funny status update from an acquaintance.

I miss being part of the zeitgeist, seeing news and reaction as it happens (OK, perhaps not as instantaneously as on twitter, but Facebook still reacts within minutes or hours). But conversely, I find that without social media, I don’t feel the same pressure to be the first to be aware of every reaction and counter-argument. In fact, I feel slightly more rested, now that I get my news from a couple of trusted sources and can arrive at my own opinion, without considering a host of variables. Old-fashioned perhaps, but I’m 43 today, so maybe it’s time to hang up my placard and start narrowing my mind…

I don’t miss the constant negativity spewed from certain domains within my digital world. I’d not even really noticed this until this morning’s brief scroll. Like, I know (many) straight white men are trash display problematic behaviour but it’s actually a bit demoralising seeing evidence of this dripped before my eyes 1,000 times a day. I have no problem with anyone posting this sort of thing, by the way – I think it’s an important tool in letting off steam and building solidarity. I just hadn’t noticed until now how draining it is when you’re subjected to it constantly.

I don’t miss the endless and meaningless merry-go-round of “you like my post so I’ll like yours”.

I don’t miss being exposed to other people’s shallow and banal shite (in fairness, I don’t have many people like this on my FB, but the algorithm always lets a couple through).

I don’t miss the constant stream of adverts for things that I just looked at a couple of minutes before.

I miss keeping in touch with people, but without Facebook, I’ve realised I’ve more time to focus on the relationships that are important to me, and where the other person also has the same investment to send a text instead.

On balance, I’ve come to realise that what I loved about Facebook (the sense of community and friendship, the personal element, the increased chances to organise politically) have largely gone now, to be replaced by an endless feed of tuppenny “shock” opinion pieces, sniping, vitriolic comment threads and endless commercialism.

All friendships run their course, and I think this is the end for me. I’ll still keep my hand in – Facebook is too intrinsic to my life to duck out completely, and no one would read this bloody blog if I didn’t post it on there. But I will be keeping you at arms length from now on, old friend.

Thanks for the algorithm-fed memories.

 

 

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take your ableism and get in the bin.

Ableist stories and examples

 

CN: talk of suicide, bullying and abuse

Yesterday I was subject to the most gross ableist attack by someone I had thought was a close friend. In her words, she accused me of ‘using my illness to get everything’. She was seething with vitriol, practically spitting the words.

I presume she meant that by having comorbid diagnoses of Bipolar II and BPD, I’m somehow able to swan around my penthouse suite that my oh-so-fortunate disability has ‘won’ me, being attended to by vast swathes of semi naked servants who are wafting me with gold plated fig leaves. When I get bored of swanning, I can go out to my high-powered job that I’ve managed to snag by virtue of being mental, because mental people get all the best jobs, don’t they? Then I can come home to my loving husband, children and stable family life.

No.

Just, no.

I have HAD it with pathetic and nasty jealousies, of oppression one-upmanship and everyone staking claim to some disadvantage more than others. I am sick to the back teeth of having to justify how fucking difficult my life is to people who should know better. Of having to justify the money I live on to people who are able to earn themselves a living in a way that I cannot, as hard as I have tried. Why am I constantly having to demonstrate my illness to people who claim to be allies?

If you have a problem with me, speak to me. We’re not twelve. Or if you don’t want to speak to me, get the hell away. Don’t stick around pretending to be nice, take take taking my emotional energy, telling me I’m so great, all the while seething your festering resentment. It’s childish and deplorable and it’s called gaslighting. If you really think that I get so many advantages because of my physical and mental illnesses I wish to god you could walk in my fucking shoes for a day. Actually, you’d be unlikely to even put them on, since I can’t leave the house alone. So privileged, much advantage.

You can dislike me. You can dislike my behaviour. You can refuse to accept my profuse and multiple apologies for acting like a dick when I’ve been unwell. But know that when you attack me for my disability, that is ableist behaviour. You are exercising your power to attack someone disabled for their disability. If you want to do that, know that you are ableist.

Ableism example

When you attack someone with BPD who already has constant suicidality and a fucking ruptured and fragile sense of self, know that you are knowingly causing harm beyond what a non-disabled person would experience.

When you accuse me of using my illness to bully people and get what I want, know that you’re silencing me from one of the few outlets I have – to speak about my illness, my disability and the structural oppressions I face.

When you say to me that I use my disability to bully people, I hear that you actually don’t believe it’s a disability at all. If you’re not prepared to accept the very few and limited occasions that my illness has made me act like a dick (obviously I’ve acted like a dick on many many other occasions, completely unrelated to any mental health diagnosis), and you’re not prepared to accept my apologies or reparations for that shitty behaviour, then really you should not enter into friendships with disabled people. Because you’re giving us the false impression that you might, you know, actually show some empathy and understanding.

But that’s just me expecting special treatment.

Ableism story

Further reading: this is a nice quick blog about the behaviour of people with BPD.

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