As I am sure you can all imagine, because I feel our Facebook feeds are probably all filled with it in one way or another, every time I click on to Facebook I am greeted by messages of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and Islamophobia.
Often I will post about various posts I see on my Facebook feed and I will rant with friends. Even commenting on people’s post, I am often met with messages of “just delete me then” or “why the fuck we friends then bitch”. Nearly daily I see people posting about deleting long term friends over these things. Since the election, my feed is nearly always filled with posts that anger me and make me anxious at the same time.
But, I never delete the people posting these infuriating things. And I have a lot of reasons why.
Firstly, I would like to note that I am not at all against the delete button. A lot of my marginalized friends have become best friends with the delete button because it is what they need for their mental health, and I find it admirable that they make the decision to love themselves and realize they need to take care of themselves.
Even I have nearly deleted people because they caused my anxiety to grow so deeply it nearly took roots in my day to day life online.
“There are no safe spaces for us. I can’t unfollow people who don’t like black people in real life.”- Jasmine Banks at BlogHer 16
This one statement had such a huge impact on me and why I started avoiding the delete button and actually addressing the issue. Because deleting people doesn’t mean that the hate doesn’t exist, it only gives you the advantage of pretending it isn’t real. You can pretend that it doesn’t happen or that the people you know would never be that way.
And I think especially for cishet white people it can be the easy solution because you get the ease of deleting people and continuing on with your life. But we don’t have the privilege of walking away every time those post become real people harassing us.
Having people who post homophobic, transphobic, racist, and sexist things lets me be aware of what these people think.
I know that it may seem pointless, but over the past two months as the election really heated up, I have become so much more aware of who my true friends. Some people that I deeply valued in my life have posted about LGBTQ rights in such disgusting ways, that I realized they could never have true respect for me. And it was something I would never have known if it wasn’t for social media being an outlet for people to express their opinions. I guess that is both a good and bad thing.
But even more so, not deleting people who are posting these things has helped warn me of who in my area has malicious feelings towards people like me. It is like they are taping a “I am an asshole” sign to their foreheads. That statement is fully about the people who are downright and deeply homophobic, sexist, racist, and so forth. Those people who find every opportunity to tell marginalized people that they are scum.
It’s like a beacon.
The best outcome from avoiding the delete button, has been the conversations on these posts. Because of some of these conversations, I have created a little group of people I feel safe with in my area. It allows me to see the people who will speak up and against the assholes.
I am learning tolerance.
While I have always considered myself a rather tolerant person, and I encourage opinions to be shared; I get extremely heated if those opinions hurt a group of people. And my top will fly right off. I am outspoken, and the world around me has truly made me scared for being this way.
But keeping these people as friends on facebook and engaging in peaceful (at least on my side) conversation has truly helped me find the middle ground between attacking the attacker and working to educate in a productive way that doesn’t include wasting my time. I am finding conversations on topics I am passionate on aren’t as one sided as they were when I was simply having them with my fiance and best friend. Now, these conversations are happening in a place they need to; a place I have a chance to make a difference.
I don’t post often on my personal account. I leave the SWJ stuff for my Facebook Page. But even so, I have had young friends reach out that something I posted changed their view slightly. And in that, I feel successful as an activist and advocate.
Now that being said, I don’t give trolls my time of day. People who are repeatedly ignorant and unwilling to learn, I simply ignore while understanding that I won’t reach everyone. Sometimes I will comment, not to interact with them, but with someone else who is advocating for the side on which my opinion and feelings lay. To help them with their argument, show them I support them, or to even just comment on them pointing something out I hadn’t thought of.
Building community in a time like this, I feel is super important. And I feel that showing support to those expressing their feelings is really important. Especially when they are trying to fight for rights and respect.
“Shout out to everyone in my local area that I grew up with not giving a shit about LGBT rights. I now know exactly how you feel about my existence and couldn’t careless. 🖕🏼” – Me
To sum it up, if you can delete someone from Facebook and completely forget their racism, homophobia, ect., you have privilege. And it’s one not all of us have. So in a time when you could possibly make just a small impact whether it’s changing someone’s opinion or supporting someone who is trying to fight for rights and respect; do it.
However, I am not saying that you in any way need to keep people on Facebook who are harassing you, harming you in any way (emotionally being the big one I can think of), or in general is raising your anxiety. Especially if you are a person of color, trans, LGB, or any other marginalized identities. Because safety and self care are really important.
Just think about it next time you scroll over the delete person. And keep in mind that it is a privilege to delete someone and not deal with the hate and discrimination in person. Not all of us can avoid it that way.
You do what you feel you need to. But for me, and my activism, staying friends on Facebook with people who are complete asshats is a way to acknowledge my privilege and know who some of the people who are likely to harass me in my face to face life are.