Setting: The Manhattan-bound F train, near the 7th Avenue station; 11/25/2014 11am
Characters: Two women in their late-20s/early-30s
“I just can’t even stand to look at Facebook right now.”
“I know! It’s so full of everyone saying the most fucked up, racist things.”
“What is wrong with everyone? I’m just sticking with Twitter today.”
“Ugh. Same. Ohmigod, isn’t the weather so amazing today?”
This was the conversation that I overheard on my way to work today, one which is a variation on a theme of what always seems to happen whenever anything controversial—usually revolving around issues of race, gun control, or issues reproductive freedoms—is happening in the news. Basically, people who surely think of themselves as progressively minded, tolerant individuals find themselves confronted with the undeniable fact that many of their friends (or “friends”) and family members are racist or sexist or 2nd Amendment-loving nut jobs (or, frequently, all of the above!). And with last night’s announcement that police officer Darren Wilson will not be brought to trial for killing unarmed teenager Mike Brown, those racist assholes are out in full force—especially on social media!
So what’s a non-racist or non-sexist or non-gun-loving nut job to do? Just suffer silently (or not so silently) through the vitriol spewed forth across all sorts of social media platforms, particularly Facebook? Well, apparently, yes! At least, that’s what it seems like all the people who are complaining about how hard it is—how tedious—to sort through all the prejudice and bigotry are doing—nothing. Because, you know, what can you do? It’s so pointless to engage with your racist acquaintances—or even loved ones—because they’ll never change.
But what if you want to do something, but feel helpless and like there’s nothing to do, really, except complain to your friends or on Twitter (which, you know, is just so much more enlightened than Facebook)? Is there even anything to do? Why, yes! Yes, there is. First, stop feeling so fucking sorry for yourself because you have to read racist bullshit and unfriend those assholes. Oh, it’s your childhood best friend? Who the fuck cares? Gone! Oh, it’s your uncle? And so Thanksgiving will be awkward? Let Thanksgiving be awkward. It’s one fucking day a year and if it’s less awkward for you to bite your tongue than confront your family about its despicable political views then you’re a lost cause and all the lip service you pay to progressive points of view is a fucking lie. And finally? If getting rid of these people’s social media footprints is just too much for you to bear? Then at the very least, link them to Bijan Philips’s piece “I Will Only Bleed Here.” And if that has no effect on them? Get rid of them. Fuck your Facebook friends. There are other things far more deserving of all our attention than our friend counts anyway.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter (not Facebook) @kmiversen