Living Out Loud

Why I'm Still on Facebook

No one needs to convince me that Mark Zuckerburg is an evil techbro or that Facebook is net negative on society and responsible for the undermining of American democracy in 2016 when it promoted an orangutan hued failed gameshow host to shock and awe his way into the White House. I wish something existed with widespread adoption that I could use in its place. Unfortunately, it's the hub my extended family chose to use, the repository of a decade and a half of family photographs and the way they plan parties, graduations and retirements.

Not everyone in my family plays along. My Mom long ago opted out because she thought that every post was directed to her and her alone and didn't understand why people were using so much profanity. I tried to explain that "I Fucking Love Science" is a public page with millions of visitors, but she was dubious and withdrew. My Fox News loving father is blocked for arguing politics on Facebook. He blocked me first for being too liberal, then relented. A few later, I repaid the favor in reverse. He's not blocked in real life though. We just don't talk about anything controversial.


In 2017 I had a viral post on Facebook that was viewed and shared hundreds of thousands of times. It was of a little-known Norman Rockwell painting I'd seen in a traveling exhibition depicting the Mississippi Burning murders of Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman, three civil rights workers executed by the Klan in 1964. I posted it shortly after Charlottesville with some commentary about how there were parallels with modern times. Not many people were familiar with the painting, and many refused to believe that it was done by Rockwell. I was inundated by friend requests and messages from all over the world, including people from Philadelphia, Mississippi where the murders occurred and people who had known some of the murdered men. As a result I made friends with a lot of people I would have never encountered otherwise. and those friends are important to me. I also got quite a lot of hate mail and trolling by right-wingers, but having cut my activist teeth doing antiwar organizing outside of one of the world's largest military bases, it wasn't my first rodeo and I had no problem adopting an IDGAF attitude to those people.

So, I continue to post to and read Facebook in moderation to stay in contact with my family and to see their pictures and to maintain contact with folks I don't know through any other medium. Using technology, I block as much Facebook tracking as possible from other areas of my life. I'm fully aware of what my participation does, and I hope one day there will be enough regulation or consumer revolt to temper it. Until then, I'll just try to be careful.