The Down Side of Social Media

First and foremost, I have always been content with my decision to step back from my parents and siblings. Although I am done with my sisters, my parents are a different story.  Before my father died, I had stepped back and put some distant between me and my parents. I did not tell them, but I know they felt my absence. The truth is that I have to remind myself that my family pushed me away; I just chose to stay away. Who knows how they see it now. My father is gone now and my mother – well that’s its’ own big story.

I guess it all started with one of the worst inventions of our time – Social Media. Don’t get me wrong, I know it has value and I do use it. It’s just that it can be used to hurt people. We all know it can be used for bullying, but it can also be used in a much more subtle way to hurt others, to rip away at them both mentally and emotionally.  People can attack indirectly by just making sure you see something.

Here’s the problem – in the months after Sandy stopped talking to me and Sharon had swooped back into the family, Facebook became a tool to hurt me. It was before I had removed anyone from my page. To see my parents comment on my sister’s Facebook pages, and vice versa, I felt a tinge of jealousy. I guess I was still getting used to the separation myself. The comments back and forth were rapidly increasing – I swear a lot of it was intentional, at least on my sisters’ part. I think my parents were just oblivious. But everyone had started making damn sure they posted about everything, every little trip or meal and everyone commented on it too.  It was so odd… and obvious.

One example – after all the drama with my parents possibly moving but before I stepped back from my family, I had a book of poetry published – my first book! It was something I had always dreamed of doing. I posted the link to the book and to the website on Facebook and anxiously awaited comments from family and friends. No one in my family said anything to me about it! Not one comment, not a single “like”. No “congratulations” or “wow” or “great job”, and not a single one of them purchased the book either. I felt so hurt, so unsupported, so unloved. Soon after my post, Sandy posted that she and her hubby were going out for the day, and my dad posted, “Have a good time”. Honestly, that small little comment hurt like a son-of-a-bitch! I mean, I had a book published and that didn’t warrant a comment, but my sister going out to lunch did? It was becoming clear that my family was not the family I once had and that I needed to separate myself from such negativity. But it still hurt and I wasn’t expecting that.

Another example – Sharon used to show up on my Facebook, even though we were never friends on it. We did argue back and forth over Facebook Messenger though. It got to the point where I told her I just wanted to move on and she should do the same. After a while, against my better judgement and in a last attempt to try to fix things, I sent Sharon a Facebook message stating that some time had passed and we had both said a lot of things we shouldn’t have. I asked if she wanted to try to talk things out. She wrote back only that she would “ponder it”! Well, that was all I needed to know that I was done with her. I should have known better than to think she could be any different. She never got back to me and I never contacted her again either. It wasn’t long before I noticed that she disappeared from Facebook. She had obviously blocked me (which we could tell since she didn’t block my husband). I didn’t mind though. I actually thought it was funny – for someone who said she didn’t care anymore, blocking me kind of showed she did.

After multiple in-your-face posts, I had come to a point where I didn’t want my family in my business anymore. I expected abuse online between teenagers, but not from grown adults. I was sexually abused as a child and now I was being abused emotionally. I blocked everyone – sisters, parents, my sons’ other side of the family. I didn’t want to be in their lives and I didn’t want them in mine. At the time, it was one of the best decisions I could have made – it was the first bit of freedom I felt.

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