The Unfollowing

Politics, racism, anti-Islam, anti-refugee, anti-women, and other hate posts: I banish you from my Newsfeed.

I’m okay with pandas, bizarre news articles, and time-lapse photography. I just wish it weren’t so easy to shoot misattributed, illogical garbage around the globe as fast as you can click ‘share’.

I understand that Facebook has many functions (How’s it going?): keeping people aware of what you’re eating, posting pics, passing on things that amaze, sharing private griefs, telling the whole world when your relationship ends, expressing indignation, even anger. Here’s the problem: We’re not all angry about the same things.
soap box

Maybe we need to bring back the wooden soapbox. If people used a real soapbox instead of Facebook, they’d have to actually think through what they were going to say, rather than hit ‘share’.  Instead of finding my newsfeed full of hand-me-down hate rants and misattributed baloney, I could make a choice to go and listen to what someone had to say.  I could question their sources and argue with them. I’d know whose thoughts belonged to whom. Angry ideas wouldn’t sit on someone’s page for all digital eternity. It might be fun. We might even go and get lunch afterwards. I guess they could also start a blog.

I know. I’ve been on my own Facebook soapbox many times. My in-some-instances probably liberal views have no doubt aggravated many friends, but they’ve politely refrained from commenting. Me? I can’t leave it alone. I can be a self-righteous, priggish know-it-all, and it’s driving me crazy. My favorite website in the world? (after the weather ) Snopes: buster of all online hoaxes. I can look up its references. I can find out for myself. That’s good. I can’t stop myself from sharing it with almost religious fervor. That’s annoying.

The Facebook usage agreement prohibits hate speech. What does Facebook consider to be hate speech? Content that attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or disease is not allowed. 

Part of the hate-on-facebook problem is that perhaps people don’t always realize that what they’re posting is hate-driven. For them, it’s fear-driven. People are scared of a lot of stuff and a lot of people. I’m sure that my friends who share anti-people posts don’t see it as hate speech.

I know I post too much. No doubt the volume of my posts has been enough to send some of my ‘friends’ screaming towards the ‘unfollow’ button. Yeah. Sorry about that. Maybe others see things I’ve passed on and think, “Will she just shut up?”

Maybe we should be allowed to post whatever we want, but I’ve always felt strongly that freedom of speech should not extend to hate speech. I’m not American, but I think freedom of speech is a universal notion.

Do you get hate speech in your Newsfeed? How do you deal with it? Is it cowardly to unfollow someone without explaining why?

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3 thoughts on “The Unfollowing

  1. Kyla says:

    I continue to refuse to have a Facebook account. However, no, I don’t think it’s cowardly to unfollow someone without explaining, unless they really are a personal friend, in which case it’s a personal matter of balancing clarity with the need to conserve your energy. Good luck, though, in stepping away from hate speech, I applaud that, and I suspect that if enough of us refuse to participate or feed it, it might just die.

  2. I just scroll by those who have been known to run their mouths, rant about politics or religion, and even those who post cute photos of things I care nothing about. If they had anything serious to convey to me, hopefully they will pick up the phone and call me.

    Otherwise, I scroll through my timeline until I find a refreshing friend who has something positive to offer, like an invitation to lunch or a funny photo of themselves from the previous evening doing shots at the local pub. 🙂

  3. Karen Ormsby says:

    I couldn’t agree more Carolyn! I love how when I read so much of what you write, it’s like you’ve found a way to print the words rolling around in my head! 🙂

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