I closed my original Facebook account…the one full of cousins and college roommates……the one full of Christian fundamentalism.
Two weeks ago. I’ve never felt better.
True confession: I created a new account before closing my old one. I began populating New Facebook with people from age twenty-four and beyond, which might mean you. For a while, the two accounts sat side-by-side. (Sorry, Facebook.)
In Old Facebook, a conglomeration of past and present, I constantly ran into people from my childhood. We knew each other in a fundamentalist religious community….a system that, for all its soul-saving intentions, did some serious damage in my life. That system inspired my new book, Wife Material.
Every time I scrolled through the news feed of Old Facebook, I felt depressed and anxious. I felt like the outsider I was/am. I saw the great gulf that separated my worldview from theirs. I felt waves of revulsion and sadness but could not figure out why. (They’re being nice, right?)
In New Facebook, I find neighbors I like, people building community, announcements for concerts and art shows and wine tastings. I feel connected to something larger and more real.
I avoided Old Facebook. I rarely posted my current activities. But if I logged in, I’d get mesmerized by the scrubbed joy and sparkling perfection of “friends” – some I’d experienced as judgmental and shallow. I couldn’t tear my eyes off the screen. How happy they were at Homecoming! How proud to take their own children to Christian college! How fulfilled in the Lord!
I kept scrolling while I split into two people: one of me, devouring and choking on the confusing scraps from their shared table (the one I could never find) – the other me, tugging us both back to reality. Deborah, you don’t have to eat off the floor anymore!
The denouement to my Old Facebook took place after I shared a post on gun control. I added fuel by overlaying the rainbow flag on my profile picture (In retrospect, I was asking for it.).
I received questions and thinly-veiled threats from college mates. “I’d be careful if I were you…waving flags!” Then, a groundswell: “Guns aren’t the problem! Parents should beat their kids more!” (I suppose as a deterrent to violence?). “My parents wore out my behind and I’m grateful they did.” Someone else said, “We don’t need gun control. We need parents to use the rod like God intended! My parents did and I’m a law-abiding gun owner!”
I snapped out of my trance, lunged for the delete key, and clicked madly: YES I’M SURE. YES, I WANT TO EXPUNGE THIS ACCOUNT. YES, I’M TOTALLY SURE. I KNOW I’LL LOSE EVERYTHING – YES, PLEASE!!!! GET RID OF THIS $#*&^@ THING FOR ME!
Now, for some grieving and grappling. The cloud of childhood censorship is gone. But can a recovering fundamentalist-girl really share publicly about her faith and reason? What if people get mad?
Ah, okay. I get it. Now, I’m free to find out. Now, the real growth begins…
For more about losing my religion and healthy rebellion, visit these posts:
- The Role of the Black Sheep and Spiritual Development
- Trauma Therapy: How Healthy rebellion Uses Anger to Heal