Say what you will about the pros and cons of what social media has done to our culture, but the way it can be used during messy breakups is one of the clear downsides -- and it's a big one, a way for people in pain to project their hurt in truly damaging ways.
Two different people I know and care about very deeply are going through very messy breakups right now. One has been playing out in a lot of ways, very publicly, on Facebook. The other has managed not to be public for several months, until it became very public, just last night -- on Facebook. I read it and felt like I may be one of very few people who could see right through its clear bullshit. The pain felt is real, I'm sure, but the picture being painted is not. And in both these couples' cases, these posts only serve to garner support from friends and family who are already sympathetic to the author, and very effectively vilify the target amongst them. There's nothing objective or even rational about it. Granted, people have been acting irrationally, to the point of crazy, during breakups since time immemorial. But Facebook in particular has moved in to offer and opportunity for these actions to be intensified exponentially. It's the modern equivalent of someone a hundred years ago passing flyers all over an entire region with falsely incriminating information about a particular individual.
One of these couples, the one with the many public posts airing their drama for all to see, has been my brother and sister-in-law. This is after 22 years of marriage, so they have a long history of baggage to hurl wildly into the online ether. They've both been guilty of it, and it has never mattered which one of them is posting stupid bullshit, without exception I read these posts and just think, Oh my god, shut the fuck up. Does the rest of the world really need to be dragged into this?
But what if only one person in the couple is airing their baggage on Facebook? The person choosing not to -- which I still think is the right choice -- is fucked either way. They either have to deal with being unfairly vilified by staying silent, or jump into the public conversation and expose themselves even more directly to potential vilification. They're getting raked over the coals, have their character publicly defamed, no matter what.
I have been very publicly raked over the coals on the Internet before -- I referenced it just yesterday in my entry about my history with the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Chorus. It even played out literally like a breakup, albeit in the context of friendship: "I can't be your friend anymore." When I wrote about it in detail for the final time in 2006, I specified how it left me veering between heartbreak and blind fury, which I presume is a fairly accurate description of how the people making up these two couples now are feeling. And still, what I felt can't possibly have a fraction of the intensity: experiencing it in the context of a divorce is clearly on a whole different level.
I shudder to think what it would have been like had Facebook existed in 2002, when Dad and Sherri were separated for a year. I'm certain it would have been brutal. It was brutal enough already, on the entire family. Then as now, I refused to single one person out as the unequivocal villain. No one is ever blameless in these situations, and the one being characterized as the outright monster often deserves more support than they get. We have a tendency to see things in black and white terms, but that's rarely how things actually are.
We could all stand to put a little more empathy into practice. How would I handle it, particularly on social media, if Shobhit and I ever broke up? I have no idea. I can only hope I would be publicly civil, but I can't be sure until it actually happens. I sincerely hope it never does. The bigger problem is that Facebook and Twitter make it all too easy. Millions of people already write out incredibly nasty shit and hit send, for a lot less.
I only wrote yesterday about the SLGC Family Reunion Picnic, and I could have written more than I did but was short on time -- which I kind of am today too. I didn't write about any of the rest of the weekend. On Friday evening, I went to Cal Anderson Park for the first of this year's three ourdoor movies shown by Three Dollar Bill Cinema: Beetlejuice.
I told Evan I would head down there at about 6:00, and to my surprise, she was already there when Shobhit and I arrived. Shobhit did not stay for the movie, although I think at first he was thinking he would. But, he had to be up super early Saturday morning for a work shift and so he went home before the movie started. He was barely in bed when I got home afterword so he really could have stayed but whatever. I suppose if he had stayed, he'd have gotten to bed at least half an hour, maybe even an hour later than he did.
Still, once Elden and Evan's friend Erica showed up, we still had plenty of time to play Cards Against Humanity, which I brought at Evan's request. The movie did not start until dusk, around 8:45, so this gave us plenty of time, and also gave Shobhit the satisfaction of knowing it would give him a point for the day on the next Social Review.
I brought two different blanket totes, giving Elden something to sit on besides the grass; Evan brought a chair. When Erica arrived, she had a blanket of her own. And she was very generous, having brought several bags of candy, and even soda and a bottle of whiskey. None of us partook of the booze in the end.
It's just as well that I didn't drink on Friday, given that drinking reliably puts me to sleep when I go out to anything that lasts past 9 p.m. And I wound up snoozing through the final half hour or so of the movie as it was. It's so hard to stay up in these situations. I suppose it didn't help keep me awake to have laid down on the blanket Shobhit was no longer sharing with me since he'd gone home, and I was using my bag as a pillow.
I really enjoyed what I saw of the movie. I've seen it countless times, of course. Next year it will have been released 30 years ago.
Shobhit got off work on Saturday at 11:00, and soon thereafter, I met him for brunch at Rhein Haus. This is because I had looked up "nearby" deals on the Chinook Book app while we were at Cal Anderson Park Friday night, and discovered there was a 2-for-1 brunch entrée coupon for Rhein Haus. They don't have a particularly extensive selection of vegetarian options, but that's too good a deal to pass up.
When I told Ivan about it Saturday morning, he sounded intrigued, until he looked up the menu on his phone. I told him he was welcome to join us but he declined. Shobhit drove straight there from work and I walked to meet him; it's all of a ten minute or so walk from home. We had the eggs benedict with veggie sausage, and the veggie burger, splitting both dishes as we tend to do. Shobhit boxed the fries that came with the burger to take home.
We then embarked on our biweekly shopping excursions: Costco, where we got many more things than usual; PCC Greenlake Village, where we also got many more things than usual since we were using the monthly member coupon which, when combined with my employee discount, gets us 25% off; then back home. We skipped the Asian grocery stores or even Trade Joe's this time. There wasn't even a need to go to the pet store for treats or litter this time.
Soon after that, Ivan joined us in the living room and we all watched the last half of Gone with the Wind. Evidently having nothing else going on for the day -- he's currently getting every other Saturday off at work -- he asked me in the morning, "What are we going to watch today?" When I asked if he'd finished his audio book of Gone with the Wind, he said he hadn't, but still suggested we finish the movie. He thought it might help motivate him to finish the book.
I kind of forget how dark that story actually gets, especially in the second half. And when it comes to race relations, to say the film is problematic is a vast understatement, but it's still a great movie. Ivan especially likes Scarlett O'hara. "Isn't she a great character?" he said. Her unrepentant selfishness seems to really delight him.
It was probably around 4:00 when we started the movie, so it was around 6:00 when it ended. Shobhit and I watched some Golden Girls and worked on the New York Times crossword.
After Laney drove me back home from the picnic yesterday, and not long after Shobhit left for his second work shift, I walked an hour down to SIFF Cinema at the Uptown and took myself to see a movie called Columbus, which I really liked. I bused back home and Shobhit was recently back from his shift. I went straight to writing my review, though, and was in bed not long after -- as was Shobhit. He's got early shifts five days in a row this week. Today was the third one and the earliest, starting at 5 a.m. That's horribly early even for me, and I'm a morning person!