Fakebook follow-up

So not five minutes after posting my last blog post, I was immediately thinking of editing it to clarify a few points. Then the procrastinator in me thought it best to try and stretch that edit to it’s own post today!

Since I mentioned the “popular girl” that sent me a friend request had never directly bullied me as a kid, I feel like I should clarify why it still makes me uneasy.

She really was one of the 3-4 most popular girls in my elementary school, and while she’s been conservative/intelligent enough to lock down a lot of her own private information, I have to assume that she’s “friends” with a great many other people from my childhood.

It’s those unknown people that I’m most afraid of.

If I accept this request, will Facebook suddenly start “suggesting” me as a friend to my former bullies? Will those people have matured enough to just ignore me or leave me in peace now, or will they find new ways to attack me, even if I reject or block them?

Yes, some of this might seem like paranoia, but I strongly suggest anyone to go look at the NTDS report before you jump to that conclusion.

Sure, I can block them if they harass me again, but even trying to remember every person that’s ever hurt me, and pro-actively block them on Facebook, won’t actually protect me. One thing I’ve learned is that if people want to hurt you, they’ll find a way.

And don’t assume that recent publicity of transgender issues has helped at all; it hasn’t.

Caitlyn Jenner? She’s no advocate or role model. If she wanted to help trans people she should fund a non profit to help provide treatment/surgery to those without the ability to pay. Or she could tackle housing, vocational rehabilitation, etc.

Instead she’s deliberately exploiting less fortunate trans people for her own financial gain by producing a fucking reality tv program. (Quick aside here, At least Lana Wachowski isn’t exploiting other trans people in Sense 8, and just generally keeps herself out of the public spotlight. Kudos to her.)

And all those interviews Jenner gave? I was outed and verbally harassed much more frequently in public the weeks that she was in the news. Publicity like she’s going after just reminds the bigots that there are real people out in the world for them to hate/target. And sure, she has the money to avoid all that hate personally. I don’t. I can’t hire a bodyguard, or personal shopper, or drop tens of thousands of dollars on facial feminization surgeries to better “pass” in public. I dread when she’s in the news.

And the weeks that her magazine cover was in stores? Utter and complete misery. Everyone, absolutely everyone in public would stare at me, or outright point and laugh.

Caitlyn Jenner forcing herself into the media spotlight made my life objectively worse, she took away the tiny shred of anonymity that I had.

So what happens if suddenly a lot of unknown people from my past start seeing me as a “recommended” friend on Facebook?

Fakebook friends…

So it should be pretty apparent from the fact that I write a standalone blog (i.e. I don’t use tumblr) that I don’t really care much for social media. I still loosely follow Twitter, even though I think I stopped really “understanding” It when the hashtag became popular, but I’ve just flat out never been able to understand Facebook.

I have never been able to really grasp how people get value from being on Facebook.

I’ve tried a few times over the years to understand Facebook, but every time it has the opposite effect on me; over time I tend to feel less connected/in touch with my friends and family, and even worse about my lack of accomplishments in life. So it ends up being this cycle…

  • create an account
  • add a few friends and family
  • start being envious of how normal and well adjusted/functional other people are
  • or feel left out and unwanted when browsing all their fun/happy photos
  • get more depressed and lonely
  • panic when I’m confronted by someone from my past I really don’t care to know or remember…
  • and ultimately delete my account(s).

Facebook has never been a place of happiness, fun, connection or belonging for me.

But in light of being homeless, and the fact that some people just refuse to communicate over any other communication method/system than facebook, I created a new account for the first time in a few years.

And once again the cycle is starting over, at least in part, though I haven’t deleted my account again yet.

I’ve already dealt with the loneliness of seeing other people (many younger than me) showcasing their success and happiness. I’ve been bombarded by photos of all my female family and friends and their relationships, pregnancies, toddlers, etc. and as of last night now, I’ve had my first “awkward” friend request.

From this blog (and especially the most recent posts) it should be clear that I was never popular in school: quite the opposite, I was bullied and alienated from basically everyone my age. At my elementary school (like all schools, right?) there was a “popular girls” clique. While I was friends with a handful of girls (I think I had more female friends than male friends), I was never friends with any of the popular girls. I dont think I attended the same high school as any of them either, and I’ve not thought about any of them since eighth grade.

And last night, one of those “popular girls” sent me a friend request.

I just keep asking myself why?

She can only ever have known me as a fat, nerdy boy with few friends and no social skills. My old name, hometown, school information, etc. are all deliberately blank/left off my Facebook profile. She and I were never friends. And (to be fair) while she never outright bullied me like some people did, we just never interacted at all. We were total strangers that happened to be in the same grade at the same small elementary school.

This kind of thing brings out the cynic in me; reminding me that it’s an online popularity contest, a kind of “always on” school reunion system. Fakebook. The beautiful, popular people extract value from their relatively higher level of success compared to people they went to school with.

I haven’t accepted her friend request, but I haven’t deleted/declined it either.

There’s some part of me that wonders if my snap judgment is too harsh. But I just can’t figure out another “why.” What does she stand to gain from adding me? What could I gain? How many new vectors for harassment/attack would accepting her request open? Is it worth the risk of opening myself up to more potential harassment?

I don’t know, I just don’t know.

Anyway, it just highlights that Facebook doesn’t make any sense to me. This all reminded me of a video from a while ago about the Facebook problem from the perspective of an independent content/video creator here:

While his concerns don’t apply to me personally, I find it fascinating that so many people apparently find great value in being on Facebook, but others (including myself) seem to get negative value from it.