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Guest Post: Facebook Faceoff

We’re excited to post this piece from one of our favorite commenters, madhousewife

by madhousewife

I am Facebook-friends with a woman from church who is a perfectly lovely person, but she has very strong opinions on certain subjects, mostly those having to do with health.  She is against vaccinations and fluoride and aspartame and oleo and umbilical cord-clamping and…well, you know, anything that could possibly be bad for you and even some stuff you never would have thought would be bad for you but somehow it is anyway because everything is bad, everything!  Sigh. Anyway.

We hadn’t been Facebook friends for very long when it became obvious to me that I could not stomach getting updates from her, as they all had something to do with how the medical industry was poisoning us and giving our children autism.  So I clicked on the little “x” that made it so I wouldn’t have to know everything that she was thinking anymore.  That was a huge relief.

Unfortunately, we are still technically Facebook friends, which means that she can still see my updates because I’m too lazy and paranoid to un-friend her, which means that she can still comment on my updates.  My updates are all stupid and have no point except to inform people that I am logging on to Facebook and spewing forth whatever random crap is in the old brain queue.  I’m pretty sure that this lady gets that part, but she just can’t help making comments about how everything is killing us, everything! and so she says it every time you give her any kind of opening.  You know how some people are super-Christians and can’t seem to stop praising the Lord even for five minutes and everything out of their mouths is “JESUS IS LORD” or “OUR GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD” or something like that?  Well, that’s this woman, only instead of Christianity, her religion is Everything Is Killing Us.  (Yes, technically, she is a Mormon, and a very devout Mormon, too, but she doesn’t go around talking about Mormonism nearly as much Everything That’s Killing Us, so it doesn’t really count.)

So the thing is, I always know when I’m going to be hearing from this woman.  If I mention anything about food or pharmaceuticals or household cleaning supplies or routine labor and delivery practices, she’s going to tell me it’s bad for me.  Usually I post something and immediately think, “Oh, K’s going to have something to say about that.  Oh, well.”  Occasionally I stop myself before posting it and weigh how much I feel like saying it against how much I feel like reading a comment about my inevitable demise due to my foolish embrace of the modern world and its conveniences.  It’s only Facebook, so rarely does this kind lady stop me from living my life as I normally would (if I do that, the terrorists have already won!), but it’s always there, in my consciousness.  I know what she’s going to say before she says it, which is a remarkable knowledge to have about someone you are only casually acquainted with.

So this morning I posted on my Facebook that I couldn’t believe it wasn’t butter.  Couldn’t believe what wasn’t butter, you might ask.  What does she mean by that?  Nothing, I tell you.  Nothing.  It’s just what popped into my head circa 9 a.m.  I’ve never even tasted I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better, but even if I did, I’m actually pretty sure I’d believe it wasn’t.  I don’t mean anything by it, you see.  It’s like when I said I gave love a bad name.  I don’t literally mean I give love a bad name–if there’s any literal way one can do that–I’m just sayin’.  You know?  But anyway, I said it, i.e. that I couldn’t believe it wasn’t butter, and as soon as I did it, I thought, “Yeah, K’s going to have something to say about this.  Oh, well.”  And of course she did have something to say, which was this:

if it’s not butter, it’s margarine, just a one step away from plastic (this was proven)…no wonder a heart can’t beat with plastic in it?

Yes.  Indeed.  So, yeah, I have no right to complain about this, as I a) could always un-friend her if it really bugged me that much and b) seriously freaking asked for it with that margarine-laden status update.  I don’t know.  I’m not complaining, really, I’m just thinking.  Thinking about whether or not I could get her to un-friend me if I posted something offensive enough–like maybe “Madhousewife got vaccinated because she wanted to suck all the marrow out of life” or “Madhousewife drinks diet Coke just for the aspartame” (which is literally true, I think) or “Madhousewife smashed a CFL on her kitchen floor and failed to evacuate the house on principle.”

I’m just curious.  That’s all.

What’s the most offensive thing you’ve published on Facebook?  And was it accidental, or on purpose?

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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30 Responses

  1. Keri Brooks says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever published anything offensive on Facebook, but I did post a rather shrill note once. (It’s the kind of thing that I would post on my blog, but not on Facebook, since my family members don’t know about my blog.) I thought better of it after a day or so, but my father read it and showed it to my mother. (They weren’t the subject of the note, so no harm done.)

    With the new privacy settings, you can block your ward member from seeing your status updates without de-friending her. I created a new friend list specifically for the people I don’t want to be friends with but who I don’t feel like I can de-friend. Then I quarantined them by going to the custom setting on the status update (by the little padlock icon) and blocked that list. I checked the box to make that my default setting, and voila, instant non-defriending defriending. (It also works if you just want one specific update to be hidden from Aunt Edna or someone.)

  2. Molly says:

    One thing I’ve found to be true is that the proportion of stupid/crazy people in the world is a constant. But the Internet makes it so much easier to see them, or for them to find you.

    I have an aunt who publishes pro-Mormon rants on FB that make me cringe. It’s the worst possible sort of kool-aid drinking crazy that really doesn’t help in the PR department. She eventually unfriended me when I joined the “No on Prop 8” group after posting the entire text of the Proclamation on the Family on my profile.

    I also have a crazy friend who spams me with similar “Everything is Killing Us” rants. But I can’t do anything to persuade her to reconsider that someone that obsessed with dying isn’t doing very much as far as living.

    The most offensive thing I ever put on Facebook was “I don’t go on your page and act crazy. Please don’t act crazy on mine.”

  3. Molly says:

    Sorry — that may have been unclear. I joined the No on 8 group, then my Aunt berated my friends who “liked” it, posted the Proclamation, and defriended me.

  4. laura says:

    I posted that I thought it was fine for gay people to have the right to marriage. This comment got one friend infuriated. She called me out on it. I politely said it was my opinion. She ranted that I should see my bishop because in her mind I was no longer temple worthy. She blocked me from seeing her private blog and unfriended me. Another friend read the information and did the same thing. I lost two friends that day. That is the last time I mixed politics and friendship. I am often wanting to post an opinion on my blog or facebook, but think about the pain it caused me with this incident and decline the urge. I have learned that religion, politics, and friendship don’t mix and I just don’t go there.

  5. chanson says:

    Have you ever thought of sending her an article about how Facebook is KILLING US! It’s killing us all — little by little — EVERY TIME WE LOG ON!

    ;^)

  6. Nature Girl says:

    I am always surprised when people unfriend me based on my liberal social position, but ultimately a relief. Sort of like they are doing me a favor by exposing themselves to be completely intolerant. I find it so delightfully un-Christlike when people get angry and then completely reject a “friend” who has views with which they disagree. Intolerance and conformity, that’s what Jesus always preached. I’m curious, madhousewife, if your friend would stay your FB friend if you took the discussion to her profile and frequently posted articles about the eradication of polio through vaccination and other science-based studies on how everything isn’t bad for you after all. How important is this friendship? Can you turn it into a social experiment? I, for one, would be fascinated to hear the results.

  7. G says:

    I worry sometimes that I am posting too many things that are edgy and controversial (lots of links to articles about Gay rights, woman’s rights, social/environmental issues, unorthodox ways of looking at Mormonism, etc,)… I can’t seem to stop myself. and worry I might be a bit like your friend in the eyes of my more conservative contacts.

    Something that drew a bit of ire from some family members was when I joined a FB group of Mormons who supported Same Sex Marriage. And another time when I posted a link to an article discussing a study that showed the children of Same sex marriages were just as normal as children of Hetero marriages. That really raised some eyebrow and started a rather testy conversation.

    anyhoo… heheheh, and I just posted a link to THIS post to my Facebook. See? I’m addicted!!

  8. elizabeth-w says:

    I’ve been mocking Oprah for years. People who know me know this is true, and nothing personal. My husband’s cousin, who I have met twice in my life, flat out called me a racist, then bore her testimony about how Oprah has done more good for this world than Mother Teresa, yadda yadda yadda.
    I was flummoxed, offended, then calmed down and sent her a private email telling her I bore no ill will against Oprah personally but more it was a post about ‘cult of personality’. She then wrote a message back saying that she hoped her sons wouldn’t grow up to marry women like me who take their sons out of state, away from their mothers. Lovely.
    But to the bigger issue…So, I wrestle with this a lot. Sometimes it’s a good thing b/c maybe it’s a snarky thing I should just keep to myself. Others, it is something I really do want to talk about, and it goes to my private blog and those who are in the know know what kind of FB comment I might make which would direct them to the blog.

  9. Lacy says:

    I think seeing things done differently from how we’ve traditionally thought about/done them can make us feel threatened–make us worry that our own experience was less valid.

    There’s nothing like the threat of invalidation to send people on absolutist tirades.

    Even though I totally lean to the everything-is-killing-us mentality (I’m all freaky about food, home-birth, vaccinations, you name it!), I really don’t like sharing my opinion with anyone on these matters unless it’s solicited (like now…oh wait).

  10. Kaimi says:

    madhousewife,

    The New Facebook Privacy Settings are your friend. Yes, they are.

    Here’s what you do:

    1. Go to “Settings/Privacy”

    2. Click on “Posts by Me”

    3. Select “Custom/Edit”

    4. Add K’s name to the “Hide from these people” list.

    That will change your default settings. If you by chance want to share an update with crazy lady, just recustomize it at the post level (the little lock icon when you update).

    Alternatively, you can leave K on the default list, but exclude her for any post that might draw out her nuttiness.

  11. Bree says:

    I try to avoid politics on FB, but when news broke about Obama’s upcoming speech for school children, several ultra-conservative high school friends started posting the craziest things about liberal brainwashing, obama the satan lover and the need to stop paying taxes and pull their children out of public schools before they were damned. I responded that Obama would not actually eat their children and left links for full text of the speech and dept of Ed lesson aids (I work in Ed Policy). All hell broke loose and I instantly had a list of people to block. It was an easy way to find out who had really gone nutso since high school 🙂

  12. madhousewife says:

    Gee, you lot have way more depressing Facebook stories than mine.

    My basic philosophy is that life is too short to fight with people on the internet. If I want to fight with someone, I’ll do it in real life. (You know, where I can punch them.) It is kind of fun to fantasize about messing with someone on Facebook, but only in theory. In reality, I like my FB to be a safe, happy place. I don’t like to post anything political on my page, and I generally don’t comment on other people’s political posts, especially if they’ve said something I think is crazy. (Of course, I’ve never had any of my friends post something evil-racist-crazy. I like to think I’m not afraid to unfriend evil-racist-crazy people.) I am willing to let some crazy slide, hoping that others will be as generous with me.

    But to answer Nature Girl’s question, no, I don’t imagine that my friend would remain my friend if I took the debate to her wall instead of mine. It would be a hostile gesture, I think, as opposed to just reciprocal obnoxiousness. I disagree with her point of view on certain subjects (vaccines & autism particularly), but I know enough about her personal life to understand where she’s coming from (she has two severely autistic children) and even though I think she’s wrong, I still have some sympathy for her as a person. (Which is easier to do when her updates are hidden from me. Heh.)

    I did hesitate before accepting my bishop’s FB friend request, but ultimately I figured, eh, what the heck. My husband said something about me not posting any more updates about my PMS, but I said, “No way–people want to be my friend, they get what they get, suckahs!”

  13. madhousewife says:

    P.S. I suspected that recent changes on Facebook had made it possible for me to hide from certain people, but my FB language is set to Pirate and half of the time I don’t know what it’s saying. Whenever I want to change settings, I have to switch back to English so I can understand the directions. (And some directions aren’t even available in Pirate–TOTAL RIPOFF.) So far I’ve been too lazy to change my language settings long enough to change my privacy settings, but thanks for making it that much easier for me. 🙂

  14. ZD Eve says:

    I love the way madhousewife tells a story.

    I’ve found Facebook disconcerting in that it brings every kind of relationship in my life onto the same plane, so to speak. I’m friends with Bloggernacle people, with my own family members, with my in-laws, with ward and former ward members, with fellow graduate students, even with a few people I knew in high school and college. They span the range of political and religious opinions. (It’s been fascinating to see how people have changed–fellow BYU students who’ve become ex-Mormon evangelicals, fellow high school liberals who are now Glenn Beck fans or survivalists preoccupied with the end of the world–!) And it’s been fascinating, and a little disconcerting, to find out things I never knew about people–someone I had a very pleasant working relationship with for years turns out to be an atheist with a strong aversion to all religion. Did he know I was Mormon, or not? Is it better that we now know each other’s opinions now?

    The hardest thing for me is that different kinds of things form the basis of different kinds of relationships. With some people I talk about religion incessantly; with others I wouldn’t dream of doing so. With some I share my doubts; with others I don’t because they would only cause distress. It doesn’t mean we’re not close, just that we’re close in different ways, that we have a different kind of intimacy. I think that’s true of all human relationships; we share different things with different people, which is what makes life interesting.

    Personally I find myself struggling to find the line between integrity an discretion. I don’t want to hide who I am and what I think. Neither do I want to trumpet it obnoxiously in people’s faces.

    I also think FB etiquette is so difficult because the medium has evolved so much faster than a social protocol for managing it has. Whom do you friend? Whom do you unfriend?

    I post mostly boring, routine things from my life, when I post at all, just because I am aware of having friends across the spectrum. And I don’t want to be obnoxious. (Also, as usual I find myself somewhere in the mushy middle.)

    Strangely enough the thing I feel most uncomfortable about is posting things about my daughter. I’m on FB partly so that I can post videos of her to my family members, but I always feel a little weird about it–like I’m one of “those” parents who has to broadcast my daughter’s every grin and google and giggle to the entire world. I’m getting over it, but I still do feel weird about it.

  15. Megan says:

    I follow ten commandments of facebook that I think eliminate 99 percent of all facebook awkwardness. While I think most facebook natives know these rules pretty intuitively, it is the ones who don’t who mess up things for the rest of us.

    1) If it isn’t something you would say to everyone you know it doesn’t go on facebook.
    2) Almost nothing on facebook is meant to be taken too seriously. Don’t try to change that. While there are some rare exceptions to this rule, if you are posting on politics or religion, keep it light and minimal. Your political and religious preferences will likely be obvious from your profile, but don’t overdo it by making your profile revolve around either of those things.
    3) Never sign your name. I can see who you are.
    4) If you often comment on people’s stuff and they never comment on yours, take the hint.
    5) Never respond to something lighthearted with a serious comment. Never.
    6) You do not always need to have a status. Only have a status if it is worth reading. (In a similar vein, never link up your facebook with Twitter. Nobody cares about you that much).
    7) No passive aggressiveness on facebook. Its awkward for everyone.
    8) Wall posts are meant to be for everyone to see and read. If no one else would be interested in seeing something, take it off the wall and into an email.
    9) The wall-to-wall feature and the comment on a post feature have different purposes. If you want to respond directly to someone, write on their wall, not on your own with a comment. If you want to clarify something or participate in a conversation about a wall post, then you can comment.
    10) Keep the use of facebook apps to a minimum. If you do use them, spare the rest of us the newsfeed clutter and don’t share.

    I tend to block anyone who offends me, and I once defriended a former young women’s president for berating me for being an Obama supporter. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything offensive though. My facebook use is meaningless chatter with my friends, updates about funny things that happen to me, pictures from my life, and random links to things that are entertaining or interesting.

  16. m&m says:

    So what’s weird about FB to me is that somehow it adds a whole new level of what might be considered unkind. To unfriend would seem rude, but really, how many friends on FB are real friends? And yet….

    It’s just all a little weird, and sometimes can add more stress to life. And yet, it’s a fun tool when it’s not annoying.

  17. stacer says:

    I always got emails (not updates–actual emails) that shrilly reminded me to vote for so-and-so (a super-conservative) from a particular person who I’d friended because of our business acquaintance. I wasn’t interested in talking politics with her–she’s the kind that only yells louder. So finally I replied to the email asking that she take me off her emailings. She didn’t listen to me, and kept sending them. So I posted on her wall that we don’t agree about politics, and I needed her to stop spamming me, as I’d already asked her to do in private.

    Her friends list dogpiled on me, and then she defriended me so I couldn’t delete the thread on her wall, because I couldn’t see it anymore. I’m still not sorry I told her she was spamming people with her political spewing.

  18. Emily U says:

    I like your list, Megan. Especially the linking to twitter part. I unfriended an old ward acquaintance b/c he tweeted about 50 times a day and drowned out everyone else’s status updates.

  19. Azucar says:

    You need a friend like me. My friends call me in to disabuse other commentors of their notions when they cannot because the person would be offended.

    Yes, I really do this for friends.

    (Let’s not even talk about how I lost 20% of my blog readership when I posted on election day ’08 how happy I was that Obama won.)

  20. madhousewife says:

    Actually, Azucar, I have some passive-aggressive friends who now post the obnoxious stuff that I only dream about posting in the comments, just in case my other friend is reading it. She hasn’t commented on anything recently, which may be coincidental–or she may have defriended me, I don’t have the nerve to check. 😀

    I really don’t understand why one would pick a political fight on Facebook, of all places. I have friends of different political persuasions, and if they’re posting something I disagree with, even if I think it’s cuckoo, I just ignore it. I certainly don’t pick fights with friends of friends. That seems gratuitously rude, like disciplining other people’s children right in front of them. I guess I have less regard for my own opinions than other people have for theirs.

  21. madhousewife says:

    Of course it is only rude when you don’t have the friend’s permission to deliver ye olde smackdown. (I hoped that went without saying, but you can never tell on the internets!)

    Just so we’re clear, I haven’t been offended by any of these comments (except the one that said I should only post statuses worth reading–that is too much performance anxiety for me 🙂 ). I just think it’s sad that so many people have lost friends over political differences because some folks feel the need to express their disapproval of who you voted for. It’s especially disgusting when it’s other church members calling you to repentance for being a Democrat. That sort of moral confusion really needs to stop.

  22. Kaimi says:

    “It’s especially disgusting when it’s other church members calling you to repentance for being a Democrat. That sort of moral confusion really needs to stop.”

    Totally. Don’t they realize that Democrats are all sons (or daughters) of perdition and thus incapable of repentance?

  23. Lessie says:

    I just lost my first friend on facebook because I was the offensive one. She sent me a message telling me she wished me all the best. I sent her a message back explaining that I understood why some of my post-mo updates would be offensive, but would she consider hiding my updates because I enjoy being in touch with her. No reply as yet.

    So, if it’s not already clear, I’m regularly offensive on facebook 🙂 I don’t censor much of myself at all. However, I do keep my Twitter account separate so that when I have something truly obscene or profane to post, I’m not likely to offend anyone.

    Most of the awkward facebook traffic I get is from mo friends who don’t know I’ve left the church. So I’ve put a link to my Full Disclosure on my facebook profile. This seems to have helped with the “let bygones be bygones” approach I try to take.

  24. Two of Three says:

    How do I find that group of Mormons who support gay marriage. I am a fb newbie and generally technically illiterate.

  25. G says:

    two of three, here’s the facebook group I joined which raised eyebrows in my family.
    There are others, I’m sure, both LDS specific and more general as well.

  26. D'Arcy says:

    I recently unfriended a RELATIVE over Sarah Palin.

    Long story.

  27. Ziff says:

    madhousewife, I love your writing!

    I’ve avoided getting into any arguments on Facebook, probably through good luck and only writing the most innocuous things possible. Megan, I like your rules, although, I’m probably one of those annoying people who comments on friends’ stuff and they’ve heard enough of me and wish I would zip it. 🙂

    Eve, I also think you make a great point here:
    I also think FB etiquette is so difficult because the medium has evolved so much faster than a social protocol for managing it has.

    I think you’re right. We try to translate offline rules and norms into online ones, but they frequently don’t match up neatly. For example, we can lose touch with friends offline, and sometimes that’s a blessing. But we can never lose friends on Facebook except by deliberate action on the part of one person or the other. I’ve wondered if it wouldn’t be useful sometimes if Facebook automatically expired your friends every year (maybe on the anniversary of your original friending). It could be overridden by either friend who wanted to stay in touch (rather than the more stringent requirement of both people saying yes to set up the friending in the first place) but if neither did anything, it would end. That people knew Facebook was doing this would perhaps make it easier to exit a bad freindship or frenemyship gracefully. “What, we’re not Facebook friends anymore? Well, I must have just not noticed the expiration alert!”

    But that’s just an example and my potential solution probably raises more new problems than it solves…

  28. Kelly Ann says:

    I definitely censor myself on Facebook given I am connected to coworkers, renters, friends, family, and numerous church contacts. i update a little but not a lot. I mostly check other people’s pages and make random comments. What has been a lot of fun is to get to know some of the bloggernacle personalities and discover what friends we have in common even though we live on different sides of the country.

  29. Jill says:

    My cousin wrote “Cousin’s Name is in the emergency room because she broke her arm doing the trust fall.”

    I thought it was hilarious, so I pushed the thumbs up like thing. My youngest brother who is still at home printed it and left it for my parents to see and I got busted.

  30. TStevens says:

    You mean you can do other things on Facebook besides Mafia Wars????
    So I was friended by a former Sister missionary from my mission through the mission specific Facebook group. I have been home 20 years and I hardly knew her then let alone now, but hey – it is all one big happy community so I accepted. I got the sense from her page she was particularly conservative in all her beliefs.
    A few weeks later I am scanning through recent status updates and making comments, doing my bit to be a good online citizen and all, when I see her’s. It was something to the effect that the kids were runing her ragged, she had too much to do, and she was just plain tired; what could she do???
    So I wrote “I hear good things about Crystal Meth.” Defriended within the hour 🙂

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