Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Something I Was Glad to See Emerge from The Ark

I don't know if you've noticed this, but our culture seems to have a lot of Facebook angst. Most recently, there's been outrage about its new privacy terms and conditions for use. Before that there was a brouhaha about its other privacy terms and conditions of use. There was a brouhaha about its layout. There were people who HATED the "25 random things meme," and people who LOVED it, and people like me who just ignored it, having posted way more than 25 random things about myself in various blog memes. There was even an NY Times piece offering advice on how to actually say something interesting and worth hearing about when one updates one's status.

I've posted a few entries about my own problems with Facebook.

Recently I had a real shock--one that made me start and left me nauseated throughout the day--when someone I'd known almost 25 years ago friended me, with a cheerful note.

This was a person I loved very much at the time I knew them. It wasn't until later that I realized this person had been emotionally and psychologically abusive, and deliberately cruel. And one of the primary tools this person used to hurt and intimidate others was the church--which of course is why I didn't recognize the abuse; I had been trained to believe that such behavior was actually love.

But I did love this person, very much. They had good points. They could be generous. They had a commitment to a certain type of goodness that everyone could see and everyone admired.

And as is true of most really abusive people, they'd probably learned how to dish out the abuse by being abused themselves.

Partly out of shock, partly out of curiosity, I accepted this person's friend invitation. I stared at the photo a long time. This person has gained a lot of weight. Never graduated from college, though I think they were close to graduating at one time--dropped out, got married and started a family instead.

I thought about writing a letter to this person, explaining just what a destructive force they were in my life. I imagined a couple of different versions. And I talked myself out of every one.

I also thought deleting this person from my friend list. I may yet do that. I may also leave this person on my list and ignore them, until my book gets picked up by a publisher (god, I picked the wrong time to finish a book--publishing is in such disarray because of the general economic horribleness) and comes out in print, at which point I will tell this person to read it.

But since then I have been thinking about a completely awesome song that made me weep when I first heard it, because it so succinctly and beautifully expressed my feelings toward the Mormon church. In particular, I love the lines

Please don't give me no warm reception
What you call peace to me is a call to arms
Some are singing to raise affection
But this piece of poetry is meant to do harm.

Pretty much.