I did it. I finally did it. I selected the “Deactivate” button on Facebook and haven’t looked back since. It’s been three weeks and I feel so much better.
I signed up for Facebook in 2018 when I was endorsed as a Humanist Celebrant. I signed up because I was going to grow my business through social media and become this “sought after celebrant”. But what I wasn’t prepared for is that while my popularity was high at the time, things were better for my business when I was “ordained”. People are not exactly comfortable with the idea of a non-religious celebrant. When I was an ordained minister I didn’t believe what I was projecting so it was very important to me to be authentic. That’s what led me to Humanism and ultimately my endorsement as a Humanist Celebrant. It was almost as soon as I became authentic and real, people began to shy away as if I suddenly became something I wasn’t.
I still tried. I put myself out there, officiated a few weddings, spoke with LOTS of potential clients who had heard amazing things about me from their friends. But as soon as I mentioned that I was a non-religious celebrant our conversation would end with the final sentence “let me talk to my fiance and get back to you” and I never heard from them again.
I tried Facebook groups which typically consisted of an atheist population and was filled with anti-religious memes and rants. But while I sympathized with the anger, hurt, and pain their religious experience had caused them, I was searching for something more uplifting and more progressive. I even started my own Humanists of Facebook group which ended up including myself and one other person. But sadly this fizzled out as we realized we are both introverts who were looking for someone to take the lead of our group.
After confiding in my Celebrant group (which was a great source of information) I was encouraged to find a Universalist Unitarian church with which to connect with like-minded people in order to find the uplifting experience I was craving. And of course, possibly introduce myself as a Celebrant which could also help build my business. This advice came at the beginning of the COVID-19 lock down so I joined the Facebook community for these churches. I was kind of excited despite the fact I cringed at the idea of “church”. My instincts were validated when I viewed an online service at one of the churches and saw the pomp and circumstance that I was indoctrinated into as a child. The hymns, the “meditation”, the ritual, the customs, all made me nauseous and I broke out in cold sweats. How could I possibly feel comfortable in a setting like this? Where were the people like me? Those who don’t need the confines of ritual or tradition? The ones who seek progress yet hold on to humanity? Those who respect the belief of others but will stand up for the separation of church and state? Where were my people? They certainly weren’t on Facebook! Maybe, like me, they grew tired of the fluff as they would be searching for substance as well.
And then, during the COVID-19 lock down, I suddenly became known as an essential worker. My day job was necessary and due to the nature of my job, masks, compliance with state orders, etc was not something I could question or ignore. Nor did I want to ignore them. There were precious people I had to protect. So I became one of the sheep that so many people claimed those of us in compliance were. It made me angry to watch people for whom I had long held respect for, show me their true colors and their ultimate knowledge of something that none of us knew anything about. “Friends” became contagious/infectious disease experts and political strategist experts. They were “certain” of their theories and no one was going to make them believe otherwise. I was stunned by the true colors my “friends” were showing.
And then, BLACK LIVES MATTER, entered the picture. This is what did it for me. To know that my so called friends believed that anyone, anyone, was not worthy of basic human rights nor could they see their own privilege, pushed me to the edge. And it wasn’t just friends, it was family. People I grew up with. People I thought were smart. People I thought were good. People I had respect for. This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I could no longer watch this unfold in front of me. And I finally chose to deactivate Facebook.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m living in willful ignorant bliss. Hell no! I choose to support causes I believe in and I make damn sure I’m practicing what I believe. But because I’m not inundated with triggers that anger me, I can find the calm and the time to do what I can to make the world a better place. I even hesitated writing this blog post. Why? Because I’m not someone who throws around my beliefs; political or religious; even though I do occasionally write blog posts about my journey out of indoctrination. But ridding myself of something that only caused me anger, frustration, and disappointment was good for my mental health. And now my time can be spent working to help create a better community and life for myself and others around me. I also wanted people to understand why I left Facebook because I didn’t want to do one of those posts that said “I’m leaving Facebook next week” which sometimes can be misinterpreted as a cry for attention. I just up and left. (Ask anyone, I’m good at that)
In the end, Facebook is a disease that should be eradicated, but it will persist because it’s an addiction. I’m glad I left. I’m glad I now spend more time reading, supporting causes I believe in, and I will (fingers crossed) find that circle of people who believe like me eventually. I’m just going to have to look a little bit deeper than social media.
Until next time, BLACK LIVES MATTER and WEAR A MASK!