What Facebook’s Awful Name Policy Did for Me, and Why I am Grateful

Most of you won’t read this. TLDR is a thing. My apologies, but cogitation is difficult when a attention span is limited to 150 characters or less.

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I was lazily scrolling through Facebook on my phone one afternoon, and suddenly I found myself kicked out. All my apps demanded I sign in again. Oh no! I thought. It had happened.  They found my ‘fake’ name and had blocked me.

name confirm

How could they do this? I felt betrayed.

Plenty of friends have pseudo names and aren’t being asked to verify. I felt singled out and persecuted. Saying I couldn’t use my chosen name because it failed muster on their “trolls and abusers” policy implied that I fell into such a category.

Most friends had one of two reactions:

  1.  “Just change it back. Who cares?”
  2. “Just make another profile.”

But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to cave, because now I thought I stood on some kind of principle. How dare they lump me in with the ne’er-do-wells? I am a good citizen.

Then came the desperation. I sent ‘documents’ proving my name. I contacted Facebook on Twitter, demanding that someone respond to me sooner. I even got huffy and said, “Fine, change it back!” No response.

I took solace in the few emailed notifications that Facebook continued to send me. (It seems that even though your profile might be disabled, the algorithms that email you are still active.)

I felt disconnected. Those people I sent text messages to were surprised, and generally unresponsive thereafter. To take the time to specially communicate with me on a different platform required extra effort; something that most people are unwilling to do these days.

In an effort to ‘distract’ myself, I turned to Instagram. But the interaction there is minimal, and I still felt very alone. I even re-posted an elephant drawing I had made for World Elephant Day to see if I could receive more ‘hearts’ than the day prior.

I love elephants, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE them. But if I’m honest with myself, I was doing it for the attention.do-it-for-the-likes

Then something happened at work: I received an award. Here I was, fretting over my inability to goof off at work on social media, and they were giving me an award. I felt like a heel.

I immediately threw myself into my job, albeit, with a lackluster performance. I began to ponder about how I was validating my existence in this world, and my constant need for it. And those few times I wasn’t getting it, how I distracted myself with other forms of media, so I could live a ‘happy life’ vicariously through some television character or another.couch potato cat

When did we become this species? Constant couch potatoes, often times, sans couch. And how many of us are actually listening? Very few. Most of us are just impressing our experience on the other, without allowing the other’s experience to impress upon us. 

If we don’t learn to hold space, and really listen to each other, then we’re all just shouting into the void and reaching no one. This is true, especially, on good ‘ol Facebook. Their algorithms prevent our loved ones or fans from seeing our posts unless we pay, or are already famous (and therefore good for business).

shout_into_the_void_poster_by_surfingca-d8y4gf6

So we really are just shouting into the void, hoping that someone, other than ourselves, will validate our existence. As if the number of likes you receive truly declares whether or not you deserve to be loved and accepted for the beautiful and unique being that you are. What?!

I am so very guilty of this. I am known as ‘the link monster’ to my friends. I am miserable unless I am sending everyone I know, every link I find that I think will make them smile, or help them change for the better.

You know what inevitably happens then, they stop reading the links. So now I’m shouting at my friends, but only the void is listening.

So thank you Facebook. Thank you for reminding me that I need to stop shouting, and I need to start listening. I need to learn to hold space for others to explore themselves. To be the one that hears, so that they aren’t just shouting into a void. I need to learn to fill that void.

I also truly need to learn to hold space for myself! To be honest, I’m considering deactivating my account for good.

Gratitude