It was 2008. I had just moved to our first duty station at the beginning of my husband’s military career. He deployed only two months after we arrived. All of a sudden, I was alone in a new place with a 2-year old and a 5-month old. Facebook was a good fit for my vulnerability.
The promise of connection and community was alluring and I was desperate for it. Desperate to keep in touch with those I had left behind. Desperate not to lose the friendships I had spent years cultivating. If I had known then that the platform that promised me camaraderie would eventually hinder free speech and censor those whose opinions didn’t line up with the “approved” line of thinking, I would never have registered.
But register I did. And I have spent the past 12-years trying to find a way to fit social media into my life in a productive way. After a dozen years of effort, I give up. I don’t think social media is productive. In fact, I think social media brings out the worst in people. For every positive post, there are 10 negative ones.
But the past year has pushed me over the edge. You see, I believe in freedom of speech. I value the opinions and perspectives of others, even if I don’t agree with them. My husband hasn’t done 10+ combat deployments to defend the goverment’s right to control you – he’s put himself in harm’s way to defend YOUR right to choose. I’ve seen those rights squashed in the past year, under the guise of “protection” or “it’s for your own good.”
But the ability to choose is what is so great about America. Nations all over the world would give all they had for that simple, basic right that we have so cavalierly thrown aside.
Wear a mask, or don’t.
Send your kids to school, or don’t.
Get vaccinated, or don’t.
Stay home, or don’t.
These are personal choices that will look different for all of us for a myriad of reasons that are nobody’s business but your own. Since when did we decide to judge and shame others because they want to live their lives differently than we do? Since when did we demonize personal responsibility?
You know what? If you’re reading this, I want you to know that I value YOU. I want us both to have the freedom to speak our minds and engage in respectful discussions – because how can we possibly decide for ourselves, learn, and grow if the only point of view we hear is our own?
I don’t know everything. Maybe we can learn something from each other. Maybe we can challenge each other. Maybe we’ll be better people for it. I don’t think social media fosters this kind of open, free thought. I firmly believe that social media is part of the problem, not part of the solution. And I want no part of it. So, by the time you read this, all my social media accounts will have been permanently deleted.
Trust me, this isn’t a rash decision (though I’ve been guilty of that in the past). I’ve been weighing it since last summer. The world exploded and social media faned the embers until they were raging flames, devouring everything in their path. I have no room in my life for hate, division or “cancel culture.”
After all, despite the popular line, “We’re in this together,” we can’t actually move forward in unity if we cancel everyone who disagrees with us. It’s the most anti-American thing I can think of.
So, what does this mean for my photography? Nothing really. I won’t be sharing images on Instagram or Facebook, but I’ll still be sharing them here on the blog. I will miss seeing the images created by others and gleaning inspiration from their work, but I know many of you have your own blogs and YouTube channels and I’ll focus my attention on the content you share there instead.
Oh, and you know what? Those friendships I thought social media would help me salvage long distance? It didn’t work. Because social media offers a superficial connection at best. There’s a lot more to friendship than that.
Thank you for reading and hearing my heart.