Almost daily now I receive a text or email from folks wanting to know 1) if I am okay 2) why haven’t I been on Facebook.
I am touched by the many kindhearted people I have encountered over my life, on and off Facebook.
Many years ago now, I had a dream where I was standing at the altar holding a chalice with a line of people standing in front of me. Each person poured from their chalice into mine, until my cup was literally running over and making a river of goodness at that altar.
That dream has always been emblematic of my life in so many ways, so many good and decent people pouring their lives into mine, their kindnesses forming a flowing river of life.
First of all, yes, I am fine. Really, I am.
I came home from book tour exhausted, but not just from the travel. My spirit was depleted. All the noise in the world about the Gold Star widow Ms. Johnson (which honestly seems ages ago now) had left me reeling. I couldn’t distance myself from the attacks upon that widow, upon her family. As I told a girlfriend over dinner the other night, the thing that makes a writer good is their ability to crawl inside the skin of another. A novelist has to be able to know their character in the deepest most intimate of ways. Without an ability to do that, a writer will fail at building compelling characters.
But this gift, this ability to crawl inside the skin of another, can be a weaknesses, especially when one is incapable of distancing themselves from all those hurts. When war widows become the focus of the national conversation, I simply am incapable of being objective. Their hurt becomes my hurt. Their pain, my pain. It’s the bane of being the daughter of a war widow and being a writer.
Unable to cope with the national conversation regarding the deaths in Niger and Trump’s unseemly disrespect for the war dead and their survivors, I just shut down my Facebook account.
I didn’t make an announcement. I didn’t ask anyone. Nor did I tell anyone. I simply deactivated my account.
This is no small matter given the size of the audience I communicated with on a regular basis. (Will any even read this?) I suppose there will be those who think I have cut off my nose to spite my face. Perhaps they are right.
Who can say for sure?
All I know is that I have more time for reading books. (I’m reading Patti Callahan Henry’s The Bookshop at Water’s End right now and loving it). I have more time for writing. I’m working on a true crime story titled The Murder Gene. Hopefully I will have that book completed in the early part of 2018. I am busy dealing with the flooding that happened to our home while we were away, flooding caused by the lid of the washing machine being left up (sigh). I am looking forward to the birth of a great-nephew later this week, and a wedding shower for a beloved niece. Next week I will be in DC for the reading of the names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. I will read Dad’s name along with his brother, Doug, at 10:30 on Tuesday night.
So when the news came out today that 126 million of us Facebook users were fed a daily diet of Russian-linked propaganda during the 2016 election, I inhaled and reaffirmed my need to stay away from Facebook for awhile.
First of all because my heart needs the rest. Secondly, because Mark Zuckerberg has made a buttload of money off the clicks I generated through dialogue and discussion, through intellectual property of writing and creating. Zuckerberg has made that money in a reckless fashion that has without argument put our democracy at risk. (Just read today’s headlines on indictments to understand that risk). I know of no other way of communicating to Mark Zuckerberg the wrongs he’s committed than to simply shut down my participation in his bid for more dollars.
I, afterall, am not getting paid for the content I put out there. And the argument could be made that Zuckerberg has been reckless with our freedoms. Reckless with the trust we placed in him as innocents just looking to reconnect with old friends and to make new friends.
My husband left Facebook last November following the election and has not yet returned.
I don’t know if and when I might return.
Yes, of course, I miss the many people I connected with on Facebook. But you know what? I find that people who really want to stay in touch, those folks have found a way. They’ve called me. They’ve sent me texts. They’ve sent me old-fashioned emails and postcards.
I’ve even made time for real face-to-face conversations.
I don’t feel as distraught as I was feeling.
I’ve taken the time to listen to a Ted Talk my publicist at Mercer University Press passed along to me. A Ted Talk about how Social Media dictates our lives. It’s a good talk. Give it a listen, then tell me what you think. You can write to me at zachauthor at gmail.com. Or you can text me.
Or you know what? You could even call. I’ll take your call. My phone number is fairly easy to locate.
Remember when we used to call each other to chat and swap stories? I have some good news to share. I do. But if you want to know what it is, you’ll have to ring me.
For now, at least, I have called it quits with Facebook. While I appreciate Zuckerberg’s apology over his wrongs, I’m not yet ready to jump back into a relationship with him.
I’ve broken up with Facebook for now.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND: A novel, Mercer University Press.