“family”

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Good god, I am not able to cope with Facebook anymore.

I’ve always had mixed feelings, especially after learning about all the ways in which it’s horrible, which are nicely summed up here. The worst though is that as soon as Facebook was open to the public, my mother‘s parents were the first to discover it, and everyone else on that side of my extended family followed. Of course, I became Facebook friends with all of them and given how little I see them, thought it might not be the worst way to keep in touch. But it is the worst.

Example today:

[My Grandmother]: I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED

STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION

UNDER “GOD”, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. (I grew up

saying this every morning in school – it’s a shame we no longer do that

for fear of offending someone). NOW, LET’S SEE HOW MANY AMERICANS WILL

21 hours ago · 1 Comment · [My grandfather] and 2 others like this.

[An idiot 2nd cousin] We might have to give up the indivisible part (if the liberals keep up their destruction of our country) but never the “under God”.

I almost commented. My usual rule is not to engage because it is essentially pointless. But their posts are always offensive and never coherent and in this case I thought I could simply reply with the factual information that “under God” was added to the pledge in 1954. (A fact which I confirmed today because I couldn’t remember where I had heard it, which *grumble* is another thing they never do.) But I didn’t. I felt that I couldn’t respond to something that I find hateful and ignorant. Not ok with me!

PS It’s not about “fear of offending someone” it’s about inclusiveness, a principle that is supposed to be central to American values, and about maybe the separation of church and state that is essential to maintaining important civil freedoms for everyone including religious nuts who have every right to be nuts just not the right to inject nuttiness into publicly funded institutions. I am not interested in destroying this country, so I guess I can’t have liberal values. I guess I should stop trying to make the world a better place, if I am bringing it down just by championing human rights.

And the thing is, without the ethical and privacy concerns, I find Facebook useful. I get awesome coupon codes from ArtsCow and I like having one convenient place to announce things. I have little problem “friending” my parents. My mom doesn’t always make sense and she’s liable to “like” and copy posts like the ridiculous one above but she knows me. She does not assume that I agree with her, in fact she understands my beliefs about as well as any conservative-identifying person can. I can be open with her and I guess the point is, I hate being in the position that it seems necessary to censor myself because of people who have no real relevance to my life other than blood relation.

It’s escalated to the point that I just don’t want to associate with these people, family or not. I understand that their beliefs and political activism are informed by a very limited social circle and world view. My grandmother for example, writer (or more likely copy-and-paster) of the above, grew up in rural Maine in extreme poverty and only attended school until the 8th grade. She married my grandfather and they had seven children, were still poor, and were always active in their church. Though the family overall has a lot of dysfunction, remaining close was important to everybody. My mom became a Catholic convert, after we attended their church for the first six years of my life. Like my mom, they view God as a source of strength and embrace everything their leaders proselytize. Please understand, it’s not that I hate them because they disagree with me. I don’t have any respect for them because they don’t bother to get information from anywhere but church or email forwards from American Family Association or Fox News. They consider themselves people with “traditional values” so they hopped on the bandwagon and they will go along with just about anything. I used to be inclined to overlook their extreme fundamentalism for all of those reasons. At some point, though, I realized it’s inexcusable. It’s not ok with me. The post above was hardly the worst I have seen from them but it certainly offends me with its implication that this country is owned by a Christian God and the people who claim to speak for him and anyone who doesn’t like it doesn’t have a place in America. They are bigots. They mean well. Well-meaning bigots are just as reprehensible as any other kind, are they not? If not,  their actions and words still have the same practical consequences. And so I can’t excuse it and won’t associate with them. They have not been a part of my life, save for Facebook communication. But I can’t post a reply and it kills me to not reply.

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