Dear friends, As I announced recently, I am leaving Facebook. In the intervening time, I have heard from many of you and your messages have fallen into a few broad categories:
- Don’t go.
- Don’t go, but if you do, please let Togo get his own Facebook account.
- Please go. But let Togo get his own account.
- Buck up. You’re a conflict guy. Deal with it.
- Unfollow or unfriend all the people who disrupt your life.
- I understand.
- Find other channels to keep in touch.
So, just a little more explanation and then my plan.
All in all, people have treated me and my opinions pretty well on Facebook. There are those who disagree and who tell me. There are those who disagree, tell me, and express their continued love for me. There are those who ignore things I post that they disagree with. There are those who ignore everything I post. There are those who listen to me and enter into conversation. So, my Facebook friends are pretty much just like regular friends everywhere. I am blessed.
I’m leaving Facebook to preserve and heal my soul. I am not leaving because of the actions of any of my friends. I am not leaving with the intention of falling silent about what I believe in.
My profession has been peace and reconciliation. I regularly engage people in conversation at times that are very upsetting and disruptive for them and those around them. It can be difficult, but, as I like to say, it’s like having a front row seat to see God at work. The people who come to my table (or I go to theirs) don’t always reconcile, but there’s something healthy about the effort and I believe that God uses that time to lay the groundwork for peace.
Facebook is different when it comes to conflict. The ability for nastiness and utter disregard for others is multiplied on its timelines. And it encourages people to misbehave.
Recently, I became disturbed over the comments being made by one of my friends. He has a very rigid view of the political scene in America and I would see him appear in the comments on numerous posts on my Facebook. We share many common friends. In each and every one, he would make outrageous and sometimes hateful statements. When others would ask him to document his thoughts, he would deflect their requests and make disparaging remarks about their close-mindedness. I was encouraged by those who patiently attempted to draw him into true conversation. I privately wondered what he could be missing. Eventually, I went to his timeline and read a good number of his posts. And there I discovered what I had been missing. In reply to one of his friends, he bragged about how he would spend several hours a day finding posts that didn’t meet his political leanings and then intervene for the sole purpose of disrupting the conversations of others. I’m not sure if he thought this was some sort of sport or entertainment. But I judged him harshly for that.
In fact, I owe him a debt of gratitude. In discovering his secret, I unearthed my own problem with Facebook. And it’s not just Facebook. I grieve over people who refuse to enter into thoughtful discourse and to lay aside their selfish ambition in any venue. But, Facebook is worse than real life because the algorithms push these people into my face. And in this medium, I can’t seem to reach them. So, I judge them.
I’m leaving Facebook because of my need to stop judging people. That’s God’s job and he is really good at it.
Here is my plan going forward:
- I will continue to write for my blog, joeycope.com. Despite the advice of blog gurus everywhere, I don’t concentrate on a narrow area of information. I write about all sorts of things. And I have proven the blog gurus to be correct. Such a lack of focus fails to build strong readership. (On a personal note, I appreciate both of my regular readers.) I encourage you to visit joeycope.com regularly. I have a place there for you to sign up to receive my postings by email. And, I rarely post more than once a day — and sometimes I will go weeks without posting. So, sign up there. (If you’re reading this on my blog, the sign-up form is on the right side of the page. If you are averse to filling out the form, email me at email@example.com and I’ll add you to the list. I just need your name and email address.)
- I will be on Twitter at @joeycope. That’s where Togo speaks and I have announced new blog posts. For now, I will continue that practice. The only difference is that my Twitter feed will not be showing up on Facebook. I am considering consolidating Togo’s tweets on a regular basis as a blog post. So if you don’t do Twitter, you can sign up for my blog posts to come to your email and Togo will appear on occasion.
- I have an Instagram account. I’ve lost the password, but I may resurrect it. Togo likes having his picture taken and we are in negotiation on this.
I will miss the good things about Facebook and I will miss my friends. I understand that I am making our online relationship complicated. I apologize. Thank you for your kindness and consideration. Some of you regularly message me on Facebook. If so, I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will leave my Facebook open through February 15, 2017 in hope that friends will see this invitation to connect with me elsewhere.
Thank you, again, for your friendship. May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you. And give you peace.
Grace and peace,