Two people asked me about my Facebook account: my brother and a friend. My brother assumed I had blocked him. The friend guessed correctly I had deactivated the whole account.
It’s been almost two months now and I don’t feel the void I expected to find. The only time I’ve even considered bringing the account back is to retrieve my Spotify playlists, but once I made a new account, emailed Spotify, and verified my identity, that problem was solved. Facebook is a timesuck and a hotbed of tribeseeking. It fosters those who need others’ validation, and gives them space to find permission for cruelty, racism, hatred and ignorance. So I pulled the plug and left.
My husband tells me, however, that people miss the “chicken stories.”
I’ll be honest–I’m not sure I want to bring those back, or even continue them in a different venue. I learned something about people in this last election season, or I should say, I relearned it from my days long ago at MIPB. People think they can control your content, your stories, your words, and your art, by restricting you to the things they like about you. When you challenge them with things they don’t like or agree with, they will demand that you “stick to” or “go back to” the “things you do best,” the things they like. As if you were a puppet they were playing with that suddenly spoke on its own.
Artists, writers, actors, singers and dancers are people–not products. I know that’s a difficult concept for most Americans to grasp, since they think they can buy or boycott anything. But artists do not STOP being people when they do their art, and they do not stop when they are not doing their art. People have a right to feelings, emotions, opinions and expression, even if they are uncomfortable for you. Even if they disagree with you. ESPECIALLY if they disagree with you.
And if art does not disturb you on some level, if it is just rainbows and sunshine, it is not doing its fundamental job. Art exists first for itself, and secondly, to make you a better human being. You cannot be a better human being if you are not challenged, if you are not made to see injustice, if you are not shown your hypocrisies, if you are not confronted with all of who you are, if you are allowed to hide behind “niceness.”
So, yes, my chicken stories are comforting, cute and amusing. They make you happy and you like them, even when you don’t like what else I might be saying. But they are not all that I am, and I will not be restricted to them just because you think my words, my stories, my opinions are a product that you can choose to buy or not buy.
I have been withdrawing for some time, because America is full of bullies right now. Full of bullies who don’t think they’re bullies at all, but who are cruel, nasty cowards who honestly need a Ralphie rage-drumming in front of the whole school. I have been nice. And I have written chicken stories. And I’ll probably continue to write chicken stories.
But they aren’t all that I am, nor will I be restricted to them. I’m going to challenge myself, show myself the injustices, expose my hypocrisies and confront both you and me with all that I am. I won’t hide behind the niceness.
If you come along, fine. But I have no time for bullies, liars and cowards. I blocked my first non-sex-spam follower on Twitter today. I can do it as many times as necessary.