Dear Facebook Friends…

Dear Facebook Friends...

Posted to my Facebook Page:

Dear Facebook Friends,
 
I deactivated my personal Facebook account, and I am considering deleting it permanently.
 
I viewed my personal Facebook account as something of a personal living room where I could share my life and ideas with others. That includes sharing about my family and personal life and my thoughts about issues that are important to me. Such sharing includes discussion, disagreement, and conversation about topics. I view each post as a topic or idea I find interesting and introduce for discussion.
 
I have long asked one thing: please keep comments and discussion on-topic. That is, discuss the idea presented and not something else.
 
Why? Because the best way to understand something is to examine it, test it, poke at it, etc. What’s always included is “it”—the idea presented. When one changes subjects, avoids questions, or throws out red herrings, understanding and growth are aborted.
 
I continue to find that a particular portion of my Facebook friends is simply unwilling or unable to abide by that simple rule. Instead of interacting with what my post says, they respond with, “Well, what about…!?!?” When simple questions are asked about their view, they are dodged and avoided. In sum, commenters act like elementary school children having a fight on the playground (but worse, since they are adults).
 
I find such behavior incredibly immature and rude. I do not walk into others’ living rooms, interrupt the conversation, and change the topic to whatever I want to talk about. I don’t go into another’s house and blatantly disregard the rules they set for their home. Correspondingly, I do not enter the comment section of other’s posts and change the subject or ignore their preferences. (I certainly don’t stop and argue about posts with which I disagree. I generally see it and keep scrolling. )
 
I have offered critiques and praises of pastors and organizations within my own theological traditions and in my denomination in my posts. I have critiqued and praised politicians and parties, both Democrat and Republican.
 
I have had Christians, non-Christians, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans push back against my opinion. I love that.
 
But one thing I have noticed is that the rudest commenters—those most unwilling to answer questions, stick to the topic, and avoid distraction or logical fallacies—are conservative Christians and supporters of Donald Trump (and, in general, they are both). (Not all conservative Christian Trump supporters are like this—I know many who are humble, respectful, and willing to dialogue.) I don’t understand why this is, other than they have learned such rude, illogical, and dismissive rhetorical techniques from the leaders and heroes they support and emulate.
 
I understand this is anecdotal within a portion of “friends” that Facebook’s algorithm decides should see my posts. Nevertheless, this observation makes me very sad for my country and my faith. Such behavior (practiced by those of all stripes, but experienced by mostly from conservative Christian Trump supporters) prohibits the sort of discussion and dialogue that our country so desperately needs. But, even worse, it is a terrible witness to the Christian faith, betraying the love, grace, and respect our Savior both modeled and called for.
 
Years of pushing back against this behavior—and its continuation, heightened by this campaign year—have made me realize that Facebook is not an online space I want to inhabit personally. This saddens me as I enjoy seeing my friends and family’s lives and ideas. And I’d love to share my own.
 
Nevertheless, a toxic and graceless culture pervades this platform—especially among those who should speak life and kindness. So, I’m leaving it. I’ll miss some of you, but I won’t miss it.
 
Though my personal profile is gone, this page will remain as a place where I can share links to my writings. However, it will not include family updates or personal interaction. Trolls will be blocked.
 
I wish you all grace, mercy, and peace.
 
Eric