I quit Facebook this week. I have been thinking about it for a while, and had been deleting pictures and posts. I had removed all the "friends" who never communicated with me or responded to me. It seems to me that if one does not have an exchange of communication at least on occasion, then one is not in a friendship relationship. Frankly, I also got tired of all the quiz results, poll results, etc, over issues that either are not important, are not going to change anything, or have long been decided. What is the point of posting a poll asking if you are in support of putting Christ back in Christmas? In the first place, Christ was never in Christmas. He never asked his followers to celebrate his birth; he asked them to celebrate his death. Christmas was an adoption of a pagan celebration, a compromise in the church to members who still wanted to celebrate the Feast of the Saturnalia. The church renamed it and its purpose, and voila! "Christ"mas was born. It's not that I intend to offend, or even care what tradition someone wishes to adopt or adapt--as in the case of Christmas--it's just when people espouse beliefs and do not even know the source, history, or background that tend to make me want to roll my eyes.
One night after some spirited exchanges on one of my real friend's page--spirited being the euphemism here--I awoke to see my friend had deleted it, with the comment that she was sorry she offended anyone. I have to say that just stunned me. Not that she would say that--she is indeed a kind and gracious person who does not want to offend. It was the fact that one would feel the need to apologize among "friends" for supporting the belief that one had. In reading all the back-and-forths on Facebook in the past weeks, there has been no actual discussion--of the merits or non-merits of a position. Just the back and forth of agreeing or disagreeing. It was one comment in particular that got me going the night before: something to the effect of a person thought no other views had merit--only his. I was struck by how much of that is the norm in our communications these days. Right, left, or center, we tend to discount any merits of anyone's beliefs (and indeed, in some of the mindless accusations going around, that is not hard to want to do). So, I was moved to delete my account and get back to the real world that I live in. After all, I reasoned, my real friends and I communicate by telephone, email, or in person, without hundreds of other people having privy to the conversation and the ability to agree or disagree with it.
I come home from work every day and sit on my porch for a short while--watching the birds at my feeder. It is my decompression time. Yesterday I was thinking about all the comments about racism and health care that have been flying back and forth in the news of late. I thought of all the people I know who have entrenched beliefs about "welfare" and poor people, and black people. I have spent my career working with 'those people' and I can count on the fingers of one hand how many of them fit the stereotypical beliefs about them. Even when I worked with people with disabling mental illness (like schizophrenia), most of them wanted to work. I find myself asking over and over how these beliefs get so entrenched when I would assume that the majority of the folks doing all the criticizing do not even interact with poor people, people on welfare, or black people.
I suspect a lot of my discontent right now is also tied to the overload of work at home and at the university. It seems I cannot get caught up either place, and that kind of pace takes its toll at some point. Home is a mindless repetition of the same tasks day after day, and little to no help in getting them handled. If I do not go to the store, it does not get done; if I do not prepare a meal, it does not get done. I had gotten deli soup and bread for last night's supper, after having cooked a full meal the night before. I sat down and asked if we were going to watch the opening House. Rand said, "It depends; are you fixing supper?" I opined that I did not realize someone else could not heat the soup and bread. I heated the soup and bread, ate mine, and retired to my study to work--no longer interested in watching House or anything else. I think it was like deactivating Facebook--what is the point of this anymore either?
At work, it is one meeting after another since the semester started, backlogged on research and writing due to teaching an overload of the Research Writing course which is quite labor intensive. I am trying to finalize the travel course to South Africa in January, and running up against problems there--I am close to the point of calling it off.
Sarah Palin is in Hong Kong--or was. I think it was her first trip abroad after she got her passport. Maybe I should see if she wants to go to South Africa with us in January--if word got out she was going with us, maybe the class would make.
And now, time to grade some papers. At least a Thursday to catch up because there were no meetings today for a change.