Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ain't It Good To Know You've Got A Friend?

Dear Friends on Facebook,

By now I am sure you're aware that we're friends. (If we aren't please go unfriend me. Seriously. I don't like strangers seeing my dash.) As your friend, I feel incumbent to remind you a few things. If you know me at all you know I have no problem planning an intervention. Consider this part intervention, part public service announcement and part gentle, loving talk from someone who cares about you. Minus the gentle- because let's face it, if you've met me you know that isn't really my style.

First, I want to establish that the reason you are on my Facebook at all is because at some point in my life I considered you a friend or part of my family. I care about you. I want to know what you are up to. I want to see pictures of your pets and kids and you feeding giraffes at the local zoo. I want to keep connected with you. I want to learn from you, swap recipes with you and tell you what I am up to. If you sent me a friend request, I assume you know me. If you accepted one from me, I assume you know me. If you aren't sure what I like and don't like, you can always read all that nonsense they make us fill out when we get a profile in the first place. I love you. I do. I wouldn't be friends with you if I didn't. But sometimes I think you might forget....well, I know it sounds selfish....I think you forget what I like.

Don't get me wrong, I don't expect you to think of what I like every time you post. I don't. But if most of your friends are like me (if they have similar personalities) then its likely that you're not just pissing me off. So I want to share with you, if I can, some of the things that really get me going. They are the things that make me hide you from my timeline and contemplate whether or not I actually want to be friends with you in real life:

I won't tolerate blatant misogyny or misandry. Its just not acceptable. Yes, I am a lesbian. Yes, I don't want to sleep with men (okay, maybe Robert Downey Jr...but that's a special case) but that doesn't mean I don't know some absolutely wonderful, awesome, kick-ass guys who are excellent examples of what a man really is. It offends me to know end that you feel like its okay to bash men to me, or post those (ADMIT IT THEY ARE) obnoxious E-cards about how all men are stupid, lazy, smell bad and don't give a damn about the women in their lives. This is not true. If you need examples I can always point to here and here and here to get you started, and then if those shining examples aren't enough you can call me and I'll be happy to introduce you to Flyguy and some of my other very awesome male friends. If you are a misogynist- this goes for you too ladies, I know some of you are out there- you can shove it, then go unfriend me. I have no idea how you ended up in my life if you think women are stupid, flighty or incapable. Also, you have never met me, clearly, or any of the women in my life. It still baffles me that in an age where people consider themselves to be modern and mature and open-minded that its still common for people to actively discriminate against women.

Arm-Chair Activism irritates the crap out of me. I cannot tell you how sick I am of people posting stupid pictures for me to "like" if I am against child abuse, domestic violence, if I hate cancer or want to protect my first, second or whatever amendment rights.  I'll tell you something, I probably don't like it and I definitely won't share it. Because it's lazy. In fact, if you post those things frequently, I've probably hidden your pictures from my news feed. Because, of all the people I know who post those things only one (that's right, one) to my knowledge actually does something about it. He and I share very different political ideas and faiths. But I respect him because he actually does stuff that makes a difference before he takes the time to post the stuff about how he doesn't want gun control, or how everyone should respect armed service members. I don't mind that he and I disagree. Partly because even when we do, he can be a mature adult about it and agree to civil discussion and we don't have to come to terms when its over. In part because he did serve in the military, he is a responsible gun owner and honestly, he's a reasonable person. Also, because he exhorts people to actual action, not just sharing his posts on Facebook. If you're reading here, friend, thank you for doing it right. Also, if I had his blog or whatever, I'd throw him in with the links of decent men I know.

Anyway, the point is most of you post pictures about those causes as a way of patting yourself on the back and feeling like you've done some good. I hate to tell you this- you haven't. Not a bit. Here's why. I hate cancer too. I do. But if I don't share your post, and you have shared it, neither of us has done anything to work towards curing it. If you want to raise money for cancer research and whatever, you should probably get in contact with the American Cancer Society .  See how that works? I just gave you a link to a place where you can actually do something to prove that you hate cancer. Isn't that great? Now you can get a team together for the Relay for Life, or volunteer or work as a counselor or donate money or whatever. If you don't, can I say, maybe you don't hate cancer quite as much as you thought you did? I mean, I know you can't work with every charity...but if you hate cancer enough to repost about it- but you ignore diabetes or MS or  AIDS then maybe, just maybe, you should get off your butt and do something about it. If you really, truly don't have time to volunteer but you've got forty seconds on Facebook, skip the picture and post an actual status update like this: "Hey- I know all of you know how much my grandmother having cancer effected me as a child. Well, this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I'd love it if you would take the time to go to the American Cancer Society web page and see if there's anything you can do to help, or if you have the money, donate. This spring will be the Relay for Life. I haven't had a team before. Message me if you think you'd like to go, or form a team and raise money with me." Its just that easy. And way more personal than a stupid picture of a pink ribbon. You want to post a picture? Share one of you and your grandma. It will mean more to everyone.

Same goes with the political posts. First- if you didn't vote- I don't want to hear it. I don't. You don't get a say. Second, before you start posting more obnoxious pictures of our president or of guns or whatever- before you really, truly complain, please do me a solid and write to these fine folks (if you live in my state anyway)

Senator Claire McCaskill
Senator Roy Blunt

Or, if you need help, we'll look up your congressional district and you can write to them, or email them or whatever. But I do, as both your friend and a citizen of this country, ask you to please go speak to your representatives about your concerns. Democracy doesn't work when we don't communicate. Also, you look like way less of an asshat if you start complaining about minimum wage going up if you've taken the time to do your homework, write your representatives and maybe volunteer time passing out flyers or heading to make calls for your party office.

As for those pictures you keep posting of children and women with bruises all over their faces and bodies or (worse) the ones with a man actually hitting the woman or the child, I want to be really clear about these. STOP. JUST. FUCKING. STOP. As a person who was a victim of domestic violence, I can tell you that you are being insensitive, rude and horrible by posting a picture like that. I'm sure that you never thought that posting a picture of graphic violence might serve as a trigger to me, reminding me of the horrible things that happened to me. It does. It did. You suck. Seriously. If you were a victim of abuse and you're stronger than me, kudos. But you should know, better than anyone, that that sort of thing sticks with you. If you want to stop abuse or help those who do, post links, or go volunteer. But can those photos. Also, you should know, men can be abused too, but we never see that. I think that's sad. (By the way, if you want to head over there now, I've linked to a site that has all the US states individual child abuse prevention hotlines.)

Finally, my last really big complaint (because let's face it, I've covered E-cards in other posts) is about your religion. Now, I don't have a problem with you having one. In fact, if it makes you happy and gives you comfort, I'm super glad you have it. I don't care if its not mine. That's cool too. Here's what I have a problem with:

I have a problem with these. Not because I don't love Jesus and you do. That's fine. The problem is that you look like a self-righteous prig. I love you, but its true. Let me tell you why. If most of your friends are more like me, you're being an annoying ass by not respecting my religious choices. For example, most of my friends are either pagans, neopagans, agnostics or atheists. Me posting a bunch of stuff that says "Come to Jesus"  would not be me ministering to them. Its me being a pain in the ass. They aren't interested in it, and I know it.  Its plain rude. Not to mention if you actually want to convert them, you should probably do it in person. Now, say most of your friends are Christians. I hope they love Jesus. Maybe you can start a group on Facebook all about it. Get a Bible Study together. I don't care. But they should know  you love Jesus. If they don't either you or they are doing it wrong. So, assuming that everyone knows you love Jesus, and you know you love Jesus, what's the point of these pictures? To me, they annoy your non-Christian friends, they shame your church going ones for not being as religious as you (wow, you're posting about God on Facebook- how daring!)  and give yourself a good solid pat on the back about how many stars you're getting in your crown. I'll say it again you look like a self-righteous prig.

Now before you go getting all bent out of shape I want to point out two things. First, I have another friend on Facebook who is a very devout Christian. (actually, I find it ironic since when we were kids she didn't like church and I did and now I'm a lesbian witch and she's a church going soccer mom...its like fate in reverse. I digress) and sometimes she will post about her Bible study in the morning. She'll give the verse and how she feels it applies to her life. You know what? I like it. I like to see her god working in her life. It inspires me. It makes me happy that she finds comfort. And sometimes (its true!) those verses give me inspiration too. And that's okay. So you know, I single out Christians for a reason. No one else I know tries to convert me. None of my Jewish friends. None of my pagan ones (you heard it here- no one converted me. I came to being a witch all on my own!) None of my atheist ones try to tell me there is no god- though we can sometimes enjoy a lively debate about it without hurting anyone's feelings. None of my agnostic friends try to bring me round to them. I've never been approached by a Muslim looking to convert me (and yes, I do know some). Christians are the only ones I know who make such a huge ass fuss about gaining converts, putting their religion in your face and making a huge butt-hurt deal about you not wanting to go to church with them or listen to how Jesus can set you free or whatever.  Friends, family, I love you. You're welcome to your religion. But I'm not lost, I'm not wandering. This isn't a phase. I've been practicing witchcraft for 15 years now. That's right, since I started high school. No one convinced me. I did it on my own. So I'm pretty sure, now, you see, that its the right path for me. And you trying to convince me otherwise is rather irritating. If you want to know more about my faith, I'll be happy to talk to you about it. But the minute you start telling me how I'm wrong, I'll walk away. Because I've been your religion, but you've never been mine. I made my choice, thanks so much, and I'd appreciate you not posting those "Like if you love Jesus  share if you whatever, keep scrolling if you love the devil" because frankly, Satan is your creation, not mine, I don't believe in him or love him or worship him. Just because I'm not a Christian doesn't lump me into the the pack of devil-worshiping psychos your posts seem to imply we non-believers are.

Its not that I don't want you to post. I don't even want you to agree with me all the time. But there was a time when I would get upset because all anyone ever did was take pictures of their dinner or post pictures of their kids. I'd welcome that now. I realized recently, I follow you on Facebook because I care about your life. I want to know how your vacation went or when you're having a bad day. I'm interested when you go to a new restaurant. I like it when you tell me all about how you beat whatever new video game you bought three days ago.

I like you for you. I like your ideas and opinions. I like your smile and how think and speak. I want you to express yourself in your own words. If that's a clever quip- go for it. But let it be yours. I don't care what other people say. I'm not interested in their pictures. I want to see you, speak to you and hear your voice in your posts. Otherwise, there's no reason for me to want to be connected to you.

Let me be honest. Sometimes I don't mind your pictures and E-cards. Sometimes I don't mind your political posts. Sometimes I actually laugh at the things you post. But go look at your wall. Seriously, open a new browser. I'll wait. When was the last time you posted something that had to do with your actual life that had nothing to do with sharing or liking someone else's idea or picture? When was the last time you posted about what you were up to that didn't involve shameless self-promotion of your new book/album/artwork/gallery show? When did you actually share a little bit of who you are? If I suddenly disappear from your dash, maybe its not because I don't love you, or I don't think of you. Maybe its because its you only think of you, or you never think of me, or (sadly) I want to preserve what relationship we have and I won't be able to respect you if I watch you consistently do the things I've mentioned above.

I love you. I hope I see you soon.