Fake News? Facebook May Be Getting More Real Than I Can Take.

Yesterday, a couple I casually know posted some profoundly terrible news in their Facebook news feed. It hit me hard, and I can’t stop thinking about them now. I’m sure it hit all their friends the same way. I don’t even want to imagine what Day 2, today, is like. Would I be on Facebook at such a time? Would I even know what else to do? I hope the messages of support and love from their friends helps, but this is not something that will ever be fixed for the couple.

It got me thinking about how Facebook has become a little too much for me lately. In the beginning, Facebook friends could be anybody at all, but over time I’ve unconsciously narrowed my Friends list so it includes almost exclusively people I actually know. I suspect I’m not unusual in this way. Likes are for the world, friends are for the soul these days. Whereas Facebook used to be a place to waste time and hide from the world, now it’s something else.

Since the 2016 election, I’ve been paying more attention to how destructive spending time on FB is for me. My newsfeed, being largely derived from people I agree with, has turned into a beast that alternately terrifies me, hypes me, or reinforces my distrust of the rest of the world. This is not a good thing. The comedy it conveys is welcome, but it’s overwhelmed by other stuff.

My filter bubble is my own. I made it. It keeps the flame wars at bay, but it amplifies the wishful thinking, the not-especially-rigorous conjecture, and the constant reports of new outrages that stand in the way of my thinking clearly, and, to be honest, ruthlessly. I’m interested in strategies now, not fantasy or offense. I don’t need a constant catalog of each and every thing that’s going wrong. I know what’s wrong. I also don’t need to be hyped with hopeful old reruns promising remedies that wound up not happening. I’m trying to be smart, not hysterical.

My choices are these. I could add back people I disagree with, but I don’t think that will keep me calmer, so that’s a nope. I could avoid Facebook altogether, but that’s just hiding, and I don’t believe in being guided by fear. Instead, it may be time to accept that Facebook in 2017, paradoxically more than ever, is a doorway that opens onto my world, that challenging place that, yes, makes me laugh, but that also breaks my heart and forces me to deal with hard things. It’s not a place to avoid life any more. It’s turned into a place to live it.