I got Facebook somewhere between the age of 16 and 17, when it was new and all the rage. Everyone was posting pictures and statuses and for those in my generation, this novel platform brought tons of awareness and light and connection in a profound way.
That was more than a decade ago. Since then, I’ve witnessed the gradual regression that Facebook has taken.
The first time I noticed some hesitation with Facebook was in college, where I obsessively read people’s statuses and drama, struggling to refocus on studying that consequently stretched into late nights. I don’t think I was any different from most college kids at that time, but I still saw that it wasn’t helping me.
I saw friends around me post their new relationships and grew sad and envious. I pined for the day when I would post a relationship of my own (funnily enough, I’ve still never posted a FB relationship and I’ve dated my boyfriend for almost 3 years — further proof that reality nearly always differs from our dreams and it’s usually for the best).
Post-college, I used it to stay connected with people back home when I moved to Arizona. I posted everything from pictures to day-to-day statuses, to thoughtful posts about social justice and equity and change. My Facebook use wasn’t bad, but I noticed that the natural drift that happens with relationships and people in life was still happening, even on the Internet, in a place that promised connection.
I started questioning what the point of Facebook was.
I told my mom at one point that I was going to delete Facebook, she talked me out of it. And her reasons were valid — being further away from family, I did want to still see what was going on with loved ones back home.
Then came 2016.
Facebook meddled with elections. Facebook allowed fake news to spread like wildfire and did nothing to stop it. Why any of us kept it after that, I don’t know. I think we longed for some connection in the aftermath in something so jarring. I’m not excusing myself and I’m not blaming anyone. But looking back, it’s insane that I didn’t get rid of Facebook then.
On top of the election, 2016 was also an incredibly difficult year for me. I went almost silent on FB because of how ashamed I was, I didn’t want anyone to know how much I was struggling.
This was at the very beginning of when we began to realize that what we saw on social media wasn’t as true as we thought. Rarely did we see people sharing the rough times in their lives, the sleepless nights, the anxiety attacks, the fights with their spouse. Instead we saw smiling face after smiling face, giving us an unrealistic expectation of what life is.
Election tampering, fake news, an escapist distraction from reality, posts that only show a fraction of a person’s life and existence. It’s not that Facebook was all bad, but I was overlooking the bad things and pretending they didn’t exist. I still didn’t get rid of Facebook.
I talked about it on and off for years since then. I knew I had to get rid of it at some point but never pulled the trigger. Then I saw this headline:
And this response from multiple civil rights’ groups after meeting with him:
And it was the nail in the coffin for something that was a long time coming.
I need human connection like the rest of us. Facebook is not providing that anymore. Mark Zuckerberg and his platform delight in the drama. He doesn’t want positive change, he wants conflict because conflict brings him money. Facebook cannot be a place of connection if it spurns hate and allows racism and fake news to spread.
Black Lives Matter. Facebook doesn’t value Black lives.
Or LGBTQ lives. Or Latinx lives. Or Muslim lives. Or immigrant’s lives. Hopefully me mentioning this doesn’t detract from the BLM movement, which is important and necessary and just and deserves all the time in the world to reform and revolutionize how Black people are treated in America.
Do not be mistaken — Zuckerberg has made it clear that he sides with the conservative far right. He is on the wrong side, not just in history but in the here and now. The posts you see that show otherwise are from people, not him. And not from Facebook.
I’m sure I’ll receive backlash from my decision, but I’m used to it. Many of my friends or family members have told me I’m too political or impassioned and this has been the case for most of my life.
I don’t care because every single person who has ever told me these things is white. The family member(s) I’ve stood up to who are homophobic or transphobic identify as cis and heterosexual. The people who tell me to be quiet are not the ones being oppressed. And that’s why I don’t care.
They argue about the things I stand up for and speak out upon, and sometimes come to terms with it years later once it’s more of the norm, voicing their agreement when it feels safer to do so. If that’s your journey, then I guess that’s your journey. But I’m not waiting around for a safe time to learn and listen and speak out on injustice and I never will.
And I’m not waiting for Facebook to change anymore, either.
I’ll continue using this blog, Twitter, and Instagram to post and remain active in dialogue, learn, and to continue working at being the best white ally I can be. Instagram might also be on the chopping block but for the time being, it’s keeping me educated and updated in ways that I’d otherwise be uninformed about. Many of those I follow on Insta are activists and organizers who provide a wealth of knowledge that I think would be more harmful (to my knowledge and allyship) to give up at this point. Facebook is my starting point, not my end. As of June 2nd, 2020, I’m logging off Facebook for good.
We’ve always asked that question: Who would you be in the Holocaust or in the Civil Rights Movement? The answer is exactly how you are acting now. We might not have buses to boycott, but I’m boycotting where I can and taking action to do what’s right.