Swallow. Sigh. This is a confession. Took me a while and some distance to realize it, but I was a Facebook junkie.

Besides Facebook friends, I was a member of several groups — groups about shelter animals who need homes, pets who needed re-homing, pets lost in my area, dog/cat/guinea pig interest groups, gardening enthusiasts (What?? I am not even that interested in gardening!), at least eleven photography groups — Florida photography, New York City photography, amateur photography, photography of abandoned places, wildlife, sunsets, birds, clouds, buildings and trees - groups supporting various causes and charities, reading and writing groups, and political groups. As the campaign season intensified the political groups grew and grew.

I clicked and commented and shared trying to save animals, to find lost pets or reunite found pets with their owners, to support LGBTQ rights, Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders, women’s rights, Fight for $15, and nearly every other liberal cause. A lost cat? Like and share. A dog needs a home? Like and share. Bernie Sanders stands up to big corporations? Like and share. A meeting to raise local minimum wage to $15? Like and share. Never enough time to do all the clicking and sharing that needs to be done.

Then the fun stuff. Oh, what a gorgeous sunset — what camera setting did you use? Such a cute guinea pig! Love the photos of your kids at Halloween! Is that your new puppy? Thanks for sharing photos of your wedding, your baby shower, your birthday, your Thanksgiving dinner, your vacation, your. . . And here are mine! Photos of my grandchildren on their first day of school, of my dogs by the Christmas tree, of our New York City vacation, of my cat asleep in a ray of sunshine. . . Look, like, share.

Like, share, share, like, like, share, share, like

I loved it. I was exhausted by it and didn’t know I was exhausted by it. Not only was all the serious clicking and sharing taking a toll, but so were all the sad stories — the dog who cried after being abandoned at a shelter by his owners, the people who are still looking for their cat even though he has been missing three years, the child with leukemia, the woman with breast cancer, the friend who broke up with her husband, the dead cat found on a nearby street, the devastation of a tornado in Oklahoma, the homeless, the long-term unemployed, the child who was bullied for being transgender, the black man who was shot for. . .for being black and the jury that did not convict his killer, the single mother who supports three children by working four jobs at minimum wage, the horrendous and outrageous things Donald Trump is saying on the campaign trail. . . My heart ached daily — no, hourly. I must click and share more to stop the ache, to make everything better.

Like, share, share, like, like, share, share, like

As the election campaign intensified, so did the posts concerning Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Cruz, Bush, Christie and all the many others. Many posts enraged me. Many saddened me. Many gave me hope. Many filled me with despair. I must keep actively supporting the liberal agendas of Sanders. I must oppose the Republicans.

Like, share, share, like, like, share, share, like

Sanders is out. Posts about primary fraud. I was outraged. What’s going on? The DNC is crooked. The nomination was stolen. More shares. And, what about Trump? Is he seriously going to win the Republican nomination? How can that be?? More and more and more outrage. We must stop this. I must stop this.

Like, share, share, like, like, share, share, like

Resignation. Clinton is in and, just like Bernie, I have no choice but to support her. OMG, Trump is the Republican nominee! We must stop him. I must stop him. Like and share every positive post about Clinton. Like and share every negative post about Trump. Like, share, like, share. Running out of time. Have to stop this train wreck.

I felt guilty if I didn’t have time to read most of my feed. What did I miss? Was there something important I should have read, something I should have shared and didn’t? Less money will be raised for the cause. That found cat will never reunite with his owners. Not enough people will show up for the meeting. The sad puppy in the shelter will never find a home. Trump will become President. And, IT IS ALL MY FAULT.

Guilt has played an important role in my life. Catholic upbringing and all of that jazz. Facebook knew exactly how to feed my guilt. To magnify and own it. I believe Facebook has surpassed the Catholic Church in the guilt dispenser business.

I did not stop the train wreck. In spite of my courageous efforts, Trump became President. My world imploded. How could this happen? How?? I did everything I could and still I could not stop the worse thing from happening. I failed.

In a deep depression, I withdrew from as much unnecessary social contact as I could — real life and not real life. In my November 9th stupor, I wrote one last post on Facebook wishing all those who voted Hitler into the White House lives long enough to suffer under his regime and to regret what they had done. I deactivated my account.

A few days passed as I wallowed in my post-election misery and tried to figure out what my post-election life would be.

My life became . . . quiet. Facebook makes no noise, but it put a lot of noise in my head and now everything was . . . quiet. I felt peaceful — well, except for the whole Trump disaster. But, I no longer felt responsible for the world.

I started reading. I always read, but my reading time had decreased as my Facebook time increased. I read three books in one month. It was nice. It was quiet.

I discovered Medium. I read Medium contributions every day. It is exciting and life-affirming to know there are still people who post online in whole sentences!! Not only whole sentences, but noteworthy, lovely, intelligent sentences. And then there are the poets — scores of poets and heartfelt poems that make me almost glad to have survived the election.

I started thinking about all my Facebook friends. Were they really friends? Many were childhood friends with whom I had no contact until rediscovering each other on Facebook. If I really cared about them, wouldn’t I have kept up with them in some fashion or another (Even, god forbid, by Christmas letters!) over the 30-some-odd-years from graduation until Facebook? Actually, I am fairly certain that most of them are DT supporters, especially those who never left our rural area of Virginia, so why would I want to be friends with them anyway?

And those friends who may have been good friends at some time, but they moved on physically or emotionally and the only contact was on Facebook. Do I need to see photos of their dog playing ball or their new car? Do I need to know they went to the gym today?

And what about the friends of friends who sent me friend requests or to whom I sent friend requests? Some I never met. Most I barely know. If I passed them on the street, I wouldn’t recognize them. Why are we friends?

What about the friends that appeared on Facebook through business connections. I don’t want to be “friends” with these people! It is enough to work with them or deal with them on business matters. Do I want to see pictures of their cute baby/grandchild/niece/nephew/cat/dog or the meal they had last night? Do they want to see my personal photos? No. It is all noise, just more noise.

And, the groups. Yes, some are virtuous and dedicated to their cause, but do I need to support every one, all the time? Do I want to feel responsible for getting the word out and drumming up support for every rally, every meeting, every fund-raiser? And the shared-interest groups — fun, interesting, but far from necessary. Joining a few leads to joining many. Do I need to see five photos of the Empire State Building posted by five different people in a photography group? Nope, I don’t. Just more noise.

And the news feeds. Well, now I know they are fake and contrived and incendiary. NOISE — NOTHING BUT NOISE — DANGEROUS NOISE.

Did anyone miss me? I was very active on Facebook. I thought my Facebook friends would miss me and my many daily posts. At least, my true Facebook friends would — you know, the people with whom you actually have a relationship (I have Facebook friends on the other side of the world, people I have not met and they are truer friends and I feel we have closer relationships than some of the “real” ones). Four days after I deactivated my account, I received an email from one of those other-side-of-the-world friends. A lovely, genuine, caring email. A few days later a text from a friend in another city — someone I have only known four years, someone I know well enough to share a meal or a laugh and some photos. She was concerned about me and she understood. I was touched. Another text from a local friend who is also my pet-sitter.

Then I waited. . and waited. True, Facebook relationships often leave us with no other means of contact — no phone numbers, no email addresses, no physical addresses — but my “real life” friends, the ones with whom I was friends long, long before Facebook or the ones with whom I have active relationships know how to reach me. I waited.

Finally, three weeks after FDD (Facebook Deactivation Day), I received a text from a friend and former in-law. We live about 90 miles apart and see each other two or three times a year and besides Facebook, we have been known to email and talk on the phone. She mentioned that I hadn’t been on Facebook, asked how I was, shared a little holiday news. Now, I had decided that those who supported DT were no longer my friends. I just cannot ignore support for such a despicable person. I know some of this person’s family, some of whom were also my Facebook friends, are DT supporters, but I was unsure about her and her husband. They both are not the sorts to personally be cruel to anyone and they never talk badly about people unlike themselves, but that does not mean they wouldn’t give power to someone who would be cruel. People often pass on the sword of cruelty. But, DT supporters? No, I could not imagine it. Yet, they tend to be on the conservative side and are born-again Christians who recently were posting more Jesus-y memes, more prayer requests. Doubt begins to form. My heart did not want to accept they could be in the DT camp, but my mind knew it was a very good possibility.

I did not reply. Just could not deal with it. A day passed and another text arrived: Hey girl, you ok? Seven more days passed: Ok, I am getting worried !! Everything alright?

I sent an email. I poured out my pain from the election. I detailed my concerns of the perils of a DT presidency. No accusations. No questions. Just my feelings — deep, dark, depressed and very, very worried. Honest emotion. My emotion, my pain. A stranger could read that email and know how badly I was hurting.

Her reply: Sorry things are so bad. I am here for you, anytime. Love ya!

Sorry things are bad for you and no one else? Sorry you think things are bad? Sorry things are bad for you, but they are great here in the DT camp? Your’re here for me? Really, you took three weeks to show your concern and when I poured out my feelings and my fears I get a juvenile text that says nothing, that does not console, does not empathize, does not mention what is tearing at my heart. I would expect more from a self-absorbed fourteen-year-old.

The text said it all — she, and probably her husband, are DT supporters. She had no idea what to say to me because she is surrounded by DT people and has never really considered anyone’s worries about him and his upcoming presidency. She was clueless. She had no idea what the hell I was talking about. Probably thought I was losing my mind. She probably doesn’t know that she chose hate on her ballot form. Maybe she just followed her church’s recommendations. Maybe she just did not think. Either way, ignorance cannot be an excuse this time — not this time. Too much is at stake. I did not reply.

Thirty-four days after the election, I started a new Facebook account. My husband is not on Facebook, does not want to be on Facebook, but missed the contact through Facebook and through me that he had with his children and others, especially the photos they would post. I, too, missed a few people — a very few. I only have 21 friends now, but they are very carefully chosen friends — friends who are actually capable of writing in full, thoughtful sentences, friends who celebrate diversity and fight for justice. I belong to no groups — yet — and may never belong to any. I don’t know if I can handle the pressure.

I share very little. I want my world to stay small, small and special, small and interesting, small and quiet.

Written by

I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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