I have a problem with Facebook. I have too many "friends" from too many different places, and they are a very diverse group. I've got Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Anarchists, Catholics, Born-Again Christians, Pagans in a variety of flavors, and militant atheists among my friends. My friends list contains people who are straight, gay, bi, transgendered, in every sort of relationship and with every sort of preference. Some of them are physically disabled. Some have mental illnesses. I've got people related to me, people I know in real life, people I know from games, people I know from elsewhere on the Internet, at least one former pen pal, people I've met through Facebook, and some that I just play Facebook games with. And I like all these people. I respect them all. That's not the problem.
The problem is that I am beginning to feel like I can't be honest about who I am, and that posting anything more controversial that observations about the weather is dangerous. I find myself trying to be sensitive to everyone (though I don't always succeed, I suspect) and when people post things I don't like, I try to let it go (and I am probably not always successful in that either). Today I posted something that was intended to be humorous about the difficulties of taking a 5-year-old to church-- that next time I'd better bring a straitjacket or tranquilizer darts. You can substitute "library" or any occasion where people shouldn't run around like a squirrel on speed for "church", right? It just happens that we went to church today, and I made that comment, thinking that other parents might be able to relate. But, no, someone had to come along and make an unmistakably snide comment to the effect that I should keep dragging her to church so she'll end up with disdain for ALL religion, just like him.
The truth is that I've only recently started going to church at all. I'd never gone to an Orthodox church before, but after being involved for a couple of months, I think I've decided that I want to be a part of it. I have gone out of my way to not really mention this to much of anyone, in real life or on Facebook. I realize that some people don't like religion. I know that some people are hostile toward Christianity in particular. (I used to be one of those people!) I just don't think that mentioning that I went to church is an invitation for other people to share how wrong they think I am, particularly when I wasn't even stating an opinion on the matter.
So I feel bad now. I know it's just the way life is, but is there a chance that I could do, think, feel, or believe ANYTHING without someone having to second guess me? Just once! Just for a change of pace.
I mean, the person in question isn't even someone I know, really, so I shouldn't even care. It's someone my husband knew long before he and I met-- the guy messaged me because he was trying to get in touch with my husband, and then I accepted his friend request. That barely counts as an acquaintance. But I have a self-destructive habit of feeling in my gut that everyone else is right and I am wrong, so when these stupid little things happen, which shouldn't even phase me, I feel sad and guilty, like I somehow disappointed the world. So, now I feel bad.
I made a comment back to point out that I didn't "drag" my daughter to church. She's actually really enthusiastic about church. She is maybe a little too enthusiastic. Then I made a second comment, as an after thought, about the length of the Divine Liturgy and the extra length today because there was a baptism. It reads like I am being defensive and making excuses, but it was all I could do to keep myself from apologizing for having gone to church. How ridiculous would that have been? I didn't do anything wrong. I just mentioned that I went to church, and the church part of it was actually not the relevant part. And he's not even a person I know or that cares about me.
I don't just feel bad. I feel naked and vulnerable. I feel like I showed a little bit of who I am, just a flash of my soft underbelly, and someone felt the need to come poke at me with a sharp stick. The worst part is, despite my rational understanding that it isn't true, I feel like I was in the wrong, somehow. (And, before anyone suggests it, I am getting professional help already. This is actually better than I usually am.)
Tomorrow is the start of the Nativity Fast. I'm not officially Orthodox, but I did plan on keeping the fast by not eating meat. And I think I might go on a Facebook fast too, just for my peace of mind.