Thursday, March 28

Seeing Red, or Why I Left Facebook (Baaaaaa)

See me, right there?  Hi.

So, in case you didn't see it on CNN or Huffington Post, I've left facebook.

If you couldn't give a hoot--an opinion to which you are most genuinely entitled, because after all, who am I to think anyone should care, it's not like it's a world event--you can stop reading now.  Just sayin'.   Don't be reading all of this and then leaving some comment like "Who cares?" (not that anyone will see it since I moderate comments...bwah ha ha....but still), even if "Who cares?" is the most frequently posted comment on most news sites.... and of course People magazine.  Really.  People read articles about the pregnancy weight of whichever one of the Kardashian sisters is pregnant right now (I have no idea), and then they take the time to leave a comment that says "Who cares?" Who cares?  Um....You.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

On the other hand, if you're interested (which I am, because, well, it's me) or curious (because you're that kind of person...I love me some curious people) or perhaps a wee bit jealous (which I know some of you are), read on.

So here's the deal.

I didn't leave facebook because it ate (or killed, depending on the generosity of my mood) my blog a couple of years back, although I've thought of that many times.

I didn't leave facebook because it's one huge addictive massive time suck that has negatively impacted much of  my work and my life. That's a really good reason, though.

I didn't leave facebook because I don't value community or staying in touch with my friends from kindergarten, summer camp, music festivals, or chorus.  Those are good things about facebook, and I'll miss them.  Although, come to think of it, you're getting warm.

It is possible that I may not have left facebook permanently.  While I'm away, I'm going to spend some good time working out at the bullshit gym, strengthening my bullshit deflecting muscles.  I'm gonna devote some portion of my day to working at the lab, testing out those new sprays that make facebook posts slide right off without leaving any powdery residue or unsightly stains.  I'm going to go to Use-Facebook-Infrequently-And-Don't-Care-About-Anything-You-Read Camp.  We'll see.

I understand that this is new, because, well, I just left, so I haven't thought this through so perfectly yet.  But my reasons are timely, and hell, this is my blog, so I'm gonna write about them.

The short version, for those of you who have read about as much as your attention span will tolerate, is: I left facebook over gay marriage.

I mean, that's completely inaccurate and incomplete and doesn't even resemble the truth, but I am aware that, if you're a good little soldier and you read this post all the way to the end, that's what some of you are going to come out saying.  It will be wrong, but that's all you will have gotten out of it.  So I'm saving you some time.  Okay.  Fine.  I left facebook over gay marriage.

Ding ding!  Tram Stop Number Two.  We will be stopped here for thirty seconds for those who wish to disembark at this point.

You see, I'm singl.....

I know how you think.  I was about to start a sentence with "I'm single, not partnered..." and I could hear your brains clicking and saying "aha!" and linking that sentence to that "I left facebook over gay marriage" thing.   See how that works?  Well, you're gonna think what you're gonna think.

I'm single.  Not partnered.  So I mostly have myself to talk to.   Yeah.  You might think it doesn't make a difference (especially from the privileged perspective of being partnered).  But it does.

I live in a town that I moved to solely so that there would be really good public schools for my daughter (an admittedly questionable elitist and capitalist choice that I still struggle with every day)--perhaps needless to say, I don't live in a hotbed of radical lesbian feminist politics.  Hmm.  Come to think of it, I don't think that there is such a thing as a hotbed of radical lesbian feminist politics anymore, but, hey, a girl can dream.  So I don't feel a lot of community where I live and spend a lot of my time. 

I'm a mom.  I'm the kind of mom that believes when you're a mom, that goes at the top of your list.  I get that not everyone feels that way.  I do.  So I spend a lot of my time with 13 year olds, cooking, packing lunch, and driving to events.  (This stretches my anti-assimilation muscles further than they can bear, all on its own.)

I'm a lesbian who came out into an enveloping community of strong, resistant, proud women.....and into a community of some loving, wonderful men, the great majority of whom were dead by the time I'd been out for six or seven years.

Facebook is perfect (or deadly) for people like me.  It's a little glimpse of community, a tease.  One of my friends said, a while back now, that facebook was like "sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name". a bar, I guess (which could explain my dissatisfaction right there)...but that's not how I took it.  I know that feeling.  We all know that feeling.  Hanging out with friends.  A place where people are glad when you pop in to visit.  Where you chat a bit and then you go back.  Nothin' wrong with that.   That's why I am was there.  Keep up with the latest, chat with friends, see what people are up to, take a break from being a single mom in an affluent (gag) suburb.  The way life used to be when LGBT people weren't so focused on being "just like you."

I assure you, this is not a procedural issue, or even a fit of cynicism.  It's about community.  The kicker leads back to that age old conversation, the one that was used to represent "us" (whoever "us" is) in the Supreme Court of the United States (did you hear it?) the one that is one of my least favorite conversations anywhere, anytime.   "We deserve rights because we can't help it", "who would choose this?", "no one in their right mind would choose to be gay"Yeah.  The argument in our favor before the Supreme Court included the sentence:  "[it became unconstitutional] when we as a culture determined that sexual orientation is a characteristic of individuals that they cannot control."  Great.  Now it's enshrined in the federal record.

Poor us, we couldn't change this if we wanted to.

Bullshit.  There are plenty of us out there who could change it.  And have.   Some of us (especially women, whose stories are buried under the "legitimate" research that focuses exclusively on gay men)  did choose it, and aren't sorry, and aren't victims of this "horrible life where everyone hates us".   I'm one of those.  And WHY did I choose it?  Not because of the sex.  Not because I think women are "hot" (I don't care for, or even understand that concept, no matter who it applies to).  Because the women's community, which has long been, at least in part, a euphemism for the lesbian community, at least in the place that I came out, was a wonderful, wonderful place.  Warm.  Welcoming.  Alternative.  Accepting.  Diverse.  Contrary.  Loud.  Activist.  Feminist.  Radical.   A positive, wonderful, political choice.

So.  This week.

The massive proliferation of red HRC (no, I'm not linking to them) logos made it clear to me, in a more final, permanent, way, that that community is dead, at least in my pretty large circle.  I've kind of known it for awhile.  But I have been practicing my best denial skills, and it's been working pretty well.  Until this.

I have always held, deep in my soul, that if I were ever to find myself in this sort of crowd, I would leave:

 I'm Jewish.  When a family member dies, we cover our mirrors.  It symbolizes a withdrawal from society's gaze, a recognition that mourning is lonely and silent.

And so I left.

Ironically, a few weeks ago, a facebook friend posted a meme that said, aptly: "The only thing worse than being alone is being with people who make you feel alone."   Touch√©.

So now you probably want the brief takeaway, because that's how people are these days (you see?  I'm catching on).  I told you already.  You can say "Robin left facebook because of gay marriage."

Oh.  You want the REAL takeaway?

Robin left facebook because she felt as if she found herself in a massive community of people who, almost without exception, have no qualms about playing right into the marketing scheme of a big, wealthy, corporation, and then defending it as benign.   Because I found myself nearly swept along in a nationalistic, flag-waving march for assimilation.  Because, in an almost flawless enactment of quasi-Orwellian groupthink, a voice of dissent is like screaming into a chasm--and frankly, I have enough of that in my life already without inviting it into my living space through a brightly lit screen.

Lighten up, Robin.  It was great.  It's a history making event.  People were supporting us, everywhere.  I loved seeing that sea of red.  It meant so many people were with us.  It's not a reason to leave.  It's just a symbol for marriage equality, and we were just saying we're in favor of it.  You're making too big a deal of it. I don't understand why you wouldn't be excited about gay people getting equal rights.

I am excited about gay people getting equal rights.  I'm excited about all people getting equal rights, leaving none behind.   Ya know, with the emphasis on the none.

And it's not a "symbol of marriage".  It's a logo.  Like this:

Or this:

Or this:

(Just in case you don't know what that last logo is (I know you know the first two), it's the logo of the ACLU.  You know.  The people who argued the case in our favor before the Supreme Court.  You know.  An organization that is actually related to the cases currently before the highest court in the land.   An organization that doesn't focus its time and money on slick marketing campaigns.)

The equal sign, red or not, is a logo, created in 1995 by Stone Yamashita design firm.  A logo of a $50 million dollar business, that overpays its executives and which many people within the LGBTQ community (especially those ambivalent about assimilation) do not regard as their advocate of choice.

So, you still want the "blurb".

I am a lesbian. But before that, I am a woman and a feminist.  And before that, I am a person who believes in the inherent danger of groupthink, especially in the current culture of corporate capitalism run amok.  And before THAT, I'm one of those moms who did not let her kid wear shirts with promiment "GAP" or other logos on them...I long ago joined the surprisingly large league of mothers who have told their children (as part of their education), "If they want us to advertise for them, they can pay us."

That'll do.

Hot tip:  I already mentioned that I moderate comments.  I don't do that because I like some of you and not others (though that might be true).  I do it because there is a HUGE amount of spam that floods into the comments sections of blogs, and it's a LOT to keep up with.  So it's easier to moderate.  That being said, please don't send me comments that tell me that I need to learn not to take this stuff so personally.  I've been listening to that shit my whole life.   I am who I am, and I like that I'm principled and analytical, and I have people in my life who like that I'm that way, too.  Actually, say it if you must, but be aware that I can respond to comments, and I will then feel free to tell you what you need to learn.  Deal?

P.S.  Oh.  Even though I'm not seeing them anymore, much gratitude to my few friends who changed their facebook profile pictures to GLAD, or Lambda Legal, or the ACLU. Even one or two different ones (not including knockoffs of the HRC logo) helped.  And even more gratitude to people who changed their profile photos to pictures of themselves at their weddings or commitment ceremonies, or just together with their families of choice.  And even more to those who just left it all alone, so we could all see your face and remember who we're doing all of this for.

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