tidbits

random blips, thoughts, links, shared items

There’s no reason I should have to explain to people why I behave the way I do when it comes to COVID-19 precautions, obviously. That said, there are a lot of times I want to explain them.

Most people I know are vaccinated, wear masks in crowded public spaces and/or indoors, and are generally led by the science that tells us about the layers of protection we need to keep ourselves and others safe. But, most people I know (not all, for sure, but most) have higher risk tolerance levels than I do. And I want to just write a little bit about my “why.”

Why am I not comfortable meeting people in person (unless it’s just two of us and we’ll be walking outside among the trees), going to my 12 step recovery group in person, attending Meeting for Worship in person, and other activities that might be slightly higher risk but generally speaking are not super-risky?

First of all, I’m still of the belief that if I *can* eliminate chances of picking up COVID-19 and passing it along to someone else, I should eliminate those chances. So, if there’s a risk I can skip, I skip it. But it’s not only about protecting other people.

Every day, I live with an autoimmune disorder (rheumatoid arthritis) that has a frustrating and often overwhelming range of symptoms; it is emotionally exhausting. My immune system is attacking healthy parts of me. Add to that gastrointestinal issues like diverticulosis and IBS, menopausal brain fog, continued recovery from a traumatic brain injury… my body hasn’t been all that dependable for me. That sucks. So, the prospect of “long COVID” — even if the odds of my getting it are miniscule — feels like the straw that would break this camel’s back. Another health issue with mind-fuckery as a symptom? No freakin’ thank you.

Then, add to that the fact that the pandemic has brought out my tendency towards anxiety. With a strong spiritual life I had been living in a place of relative peace and serenity regarding those things that I can’t control. It was lovely. Well… now I’m someone who if I get a little cough for a moment or two (despite having been essentially nowhere and knowing full well I’m allergic to cats and we have a cat so of course I deal with sinus/chest nonsense) I will worry. I will worry I have COVID-19. This worry does not have to be born of fact, but the worry will simmer under all I am doing even if it “shouldn’t.” Most of my immediate family has these tendencies, too. So, again, if I can eliminate a risk, I’m going to eliminate it.

Thanks for reading this. I’m not even sure why I’m posting it, but I keep wanting to explain why I’m not participating in even relatively safe activities that so many people have resumed. So, I’m getting the explanation out of my system. :-)

In the Quaker Meeting where I’m a member, we practice what is sometimes called “waiting worship,” or unprogrammed meeting. That means we mostly sit in silence together. Sometimes, people are led by Spirit (or God or however you want to describe it) to share something out loud with the rest of us. Today, a hymn came to me during worship. It didn’t “rise to the level of vocal ministry,” so I remained on mute (while I hum-sang!). This hymn from my childhood church came to me so strongly this morning that I would have (maybe?) sung it in Meeting if I could’ve remembered more than the Alleluias! I *almost* sang with the idea that I would hum the non-Alleluia parts.
If you are curious, with my Dad’s help (he’s retired minister of the ELCA), I found it — there are so many versions out there! — in the way I was hearing it in my head: https://youtu.be/FrDXw-8QtK0 was one from a Missouri Synod church (with the words), and another of just one person singing: https://youtu.be/tP9DfcMHVnk.
It will take some time for me to understand why this particular message came to me, though thoughts of hope and love (hope in action) following despair and acceptance come immediately to mind…

Perhaps quitting Facebook will begin a cascade of new choices that leads me in the direction of living my intended values. Perhaps. That is to say, quitting Facebook feels like the ethically and morally right choice for me but I’m not on any high horse. I use Amazon Prime way too much, for example, and am not ready to look at quitting that (yet).

Why am I quitting Facebook? Here are some of my reasons:

Greed. I believe greed is at the root of all evil. The desire to have more more more more more, is what drives Facebook. What started out as a simple (disgusting) little application was then fed by the poison of selfish capitalist greed. Facebook will never be a part of the way of life I aspire to: “just enough, and not too much.”

Addiction. I don’t even *enjoy* using Facebook for the most part, but I keep doing it. I don’t consider myself an active user, despite checking it many (many!) times each day because I know others who use it even more. But I do use it a lot, so many “just checking” visits. Ugh! This compulsive behavior leads me off a spiritually-centered path.

Control. It drives me bananas that the site determines whose posts I will or won’t see. As its algorithms try to “customize my experience” (vomit!) I suddenly get lots of posts by one person or another, typically folks I don’t know all that well. It’s super-frustrating. Yes, I could create lists or whatever, to see just the people I’d like to see, but I’d rather see *everyone’s* stuff as they post it without having to spend time manually customizing.

Ads. Ugh, again. Sponsored posts and other ads. Even with ad-blockers, that garbage comes through. Sometimes I have more sponsored posts than posts from friends.

Fear. It makes me angry that when I considered quitting Facebook, I felt afraid. I felt like my business might suffer, that I’d miss out on important socio-cultural events, that “these days we ‘have to’ have a presence on Facebook.” Because my business survived and thrived before Facebook, I know it’s a lie that I need it now. The truth is, I get new clients via word of mouth, not from Facebook.

Surveillance Capitalism. This is where I know that quitting Facebook won’t solve the problem, but it is part of why I’m quitting. I heard an interview with Shoshana Zuboff, author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power” and her argument that our personal information is a new commodity. As she says, rivers and meadows were turned into “real estate” and our personal information is now a commodity being bought, sold, and traded. I’m currently in too deep (see my mention above of using Amazon Prime), so I’m not free of this. It simply feels like deleting Facebook will be a step in the right direction.

I will miss the people. I will miss the former high school classmates who I got to know through Facebook better than I knew them back then. I will miss seeing people’s children on the first day of school, and sharing photos of my own. There’s quite a bit of good in the people who are using Facebook, for sure. I’ve been gathering snail-mail addresses from as many people as I can so after I delete I will at least be able to exchange annual updates with folks.

I certainly understand there are many compelling and understandable reasons to keep Facebook. I’m not shaming people who keep using it. I’m just letting you know why I’m quitting, how I already feel lighter just imagining being done with it, and that the costs don’t outweigh the benefits for me.

even just a little bit, cutting back on the number of times I just check, being “away” from Facebook has changed how I feel about it. I knew I didn’t like the way Facebook has crept into every facet of our lives (so many of us, though I do have friends who “don’t do Facebook,” they do exist!). but now, when I “go back to Facebook,” it feels like noise. mostly that’s because Facebook has forced all kinds of garbage onto what I see, but it’s also a product of our chaotic time.
the lesson here for me is to continue the slow weaning process I’ve started.
I’m going to post more freely here, not worrying about whether or not what I write is “share-worthy.” moving away from Facebook seems almost radical at this point, so I’ll keep inching along the road where it’s easier to breathe.