Facebook. It’s a conundrum. Ostensibly, you choose your friends. But, at the end of the day, many of the people on your friends list aren’t ones you feel you can be yourself with. And I don’t have to go into the politics of unfriending, when it’s your mom, your beloved elderly aunt, even your best friend from high school that you can’t be upfront with.
I’ve got a vast array of people on my Facebook account, from all spiritual and philosophical stripes. The Christian friends, in particular, tend to post a whole lot of glurge. Photos of flying doves with quoted scripture. This is their choice, it’s their page. And, besides, I can hide them without unfriending them.
The same doesn’t work the other way around. As a secular Buddhist, I do not believe in reincarnation or an after life. I study Buddhism to help me cope with the finality of life here on Earth–particularly after being fed a bunch of hooey in my formative years. So, as I browse, I have a lot of people on my feed (Tyson, Nye, Americans Against the Tea Party) that people on my friend list don’t have. So, when I like or share something, because I think it’s so dead-on, it can cause mass hysteria. This is why I have to start this blog. I need somewhere to speak freely about my true beliefs, which is here we are, this is it, make the most of it, do your best, but don’t plan on seeing Grandma in an afterlife.
Facebook is a microcosm of the eye-rolling things I hear on a daily basis. I have zero problem with people believing what they want to believe as long as it doesn’t impede on my rights in a secular society. I feel that most people can’t handle a life without a big, loving Heavenly Father monitoring their every move. I also think many people would misbehave horribly without the fear that they were being watched and/or would spend eternity in a really hot place. So, I’ve never been out to convert anyone. And if I am in a private home, or private situation, and the people call for a prayer, then that has to be respected.
What I’m hoping for is something that’s as impossible as eternal life in a place with ice cream-lined streets: and that is tolerance. Because it is beholden on many faiths that evangelizing is part of their duty as a believer. From the people who knock on my door too early on a Saturday, to the kids at school who insist on sharing “The Good News” with my children during their public school day, I feel as if we are constantly dodging and weaving and, at the same time, keeping our mouths shut. Why? Because if I were to post what I really thought on my Facebook page, my kids would be disinvited to parties, I would lose business in my small town, and a variety of other punitive things. And since I’m well aware of reality, I also treat it with kid gloves.
I have lost friends on Facebook because of what little of my beliefs I do allow to be represented in likes and shares. I’ve lost friends because of comments I’ve posted on news articles about religion. Done and done. I expect to lose more, and that’s not even with being totally upfront, just skirting the edges.