Today I cancelled my Facebook account. It’s something that has been a long time coming, but something happened today that really broke the camel’s back, so to speak.
It wasn’t a reposting of a random image with a sassy quote, posted as if the post-er is a super clever wordsmith. It wasn’t a photo posting of someone’s dinner plate. It wasn’t yet another invitation to play Candy Crush. It wasn’t a photo posting of Jesus threatening me with poverty if I didn’t make it my status picture for at least 15 minutes on Tuesday. It wasn’t an invitation to become a “prayer warrior” for a sick third cousin of someone who knows someone who went to high school with my mother. It was none of those things.
What was is? A childhood friend reposted a fairly famous Internet hoax story about Jane Fonda’s trip to Vietnam. The gist of the story is that while visiting POWs, Jane was slipped secret messages begging for help — and instead of taking them back to the USA, she deviously turned them over to the guards. The individual stories vary, but most continue with how the POWs were beaten and tortured as a result and in this specific case, how President Obama should be ashamed because of his plans to honor Jane this year as one of the most outstanding women of our time. Yes, Jane went to Vietnam. Yes, she stupidly got onto the anti-aircraft canon where that terrible photo was taken. Yes, she said the war was a waste of lives lost. No, she did not play double agent and doom those who trusted her to endless torture. No, Obama is not honoring her with any special awards. It has all been well debunked.
Because my childhood friend is from a military family, I earnestly wanted him to know that this story was not true…that someone was playing on his sympathies as a military child. Though I’m not myself an Obama fan, I draw the line at creating fiction to attack him. Isn’t the healthcare.gov website enough already? Do we have to make things up?
Anyway, the response I got was really the nail in the coffin for me with Facebook. It was something along the lines of, “I don’t care; I still don’t like her. Obama neither”. Yep. At the end of they day, all that is important is venom. It doesn’t matter if it is truth, fiction, or somewhere in between — as long as it is mean and hurtful to someone. That’s what I started to see on Facebook more than the invitations to Candy Crush, the stupid eCards with Victorian women complaining about the failures of men, and the requests for vegetables for Farmville. No one seems to write anything original. Worse still, what they are choosing to repost is becoming more and more hateful, racist, and just plain stupid.
That’s why I left Facebook.