I wasn’t on social media, specifically Facebook, for 5½ years. I returned earlier this week, and it took me less than 72 hours to leave again.
I wasn’t trying to re-launch my personal page. That ship has sailed. I can just imagine people who turned their back on me back in early 2014 getting a friend request now.
“Wait, that bastard’s still alive and living around here?” would probably be the typical response. Those who might be more willing to welcome me back would probably be hesitant for what those friends who still hold a grudge would say. It’s just not worth it.
It was, however, worth it to see if I could create some kind of presence that could serve as a conduit to get people over to my site and blog. The WordPress community is a wonderful, supportive place that in some ways has become a surrogate friendship circle for me. But, it reaches just so far.
I created a page titled, “Joshua Shea, Pornography Addiction Expert” because I thought it sounded professional. I put a few links to things I’d recently written on this site and a link to each of the two books I’ve written about pornography addiction.
After a day, I noticed nobody had been to the page. Facebook offered a $15 credit to run ads promoting the site, so I took them up on it. My hope was to generate enough likes to encourage other people to automatically visit the page, and hopefully harvest a few new regular readers for this site.
Listen, I know pornography addiction turns off a lot of people for a lot of reasons. Whether you’re a victim of abuse, simply squeamish when any sexuality topic is discussed, or hiding the fact you’ve got a problem, I understand that I’m not going to get the quantity nor diversity of traffic on my Facebook page that a pop culture page will. I expect that.
I also understand, based on first-hand experience, that there are people who will judge me without knowing anything about me. I came to terms with that a long time ago and it no longer bothers me…or at least I thought it didn’t.
This all said, I decided that I would target the Facebook ads to mental health professionals in the United States and Canada. I figure if there would be any group who was at least open to exploring what I had to offer, it would be those who have a professional interest or potential curiosity in what I was offering.
So, I turned on the ads and sat back.
The first 12 hours were as slow as I suspected. A nurse from Michigan liked the Facebook page and a couple dozen people clicked over to look at it.
Then, somebody put an emoji on one of the posts that I had to look up. Since I left Facebook, they added a laughing face. I didn’t understand why this person put a laughing face, and when I tried to look up his page, I was only met with far right-wing memes. Along with porn addicts, he didn’t seem to like anybody who wasn’t a gun-owning, meat-eating, Ford F150-driving, country-music listening, Islamophobic, homophobic, 40% of my clothing has a flag or an eagle on it, white male.
In the next couple of hours, I received five more of these laughing faces. In the limited amount I could see their pages, they were either the same kind of right-wing person as the first guy or far-left anti-porn zealots who gave me the vibe that since I once saw a woman naked, I should be castrated and sent off to an island. Given a few more hours, there actually started to be “Get the F off Facebook” messages under my posts.
Except for that first nurse, I could not confirm if any of these people worked in mental health. I hope not, but I’m also smart enough to know that who people present themselves as professionally is not always who they are behind closed doors. My optimistic belief is that there was one or two who got an ad, commented and that was passed on to their equally intolerant, but not mental health sector employed friends.
I could pretend that I’m worried those kinds of negative actions toward my Facebook page will hurt my “brand” or that I don’t want other porn addicts to view my site and see my being laughed at and fear they will be, too. The reality is, I just don’t have the time or space in my head to deal with small-minded people. I spent too much of my life worrying about what everybody thought of me or how I could win their attention and affection. It got me nowhere.
I’ve learned to turn off political news and not watch movies or TV shows that upset me. I don’t get involved in causes that I used to work myself up about; I had to let the polar bears and voter registration go. My loud aversion to religion is now barely a murmur and I’m actually open to hearing another’s point of view without attacking it. I look for opportunities to laugh and smile, or engage in discourse with people who – even if they disagree with me – do it in an intellectual and civil way.
Recognizing this, I should have known Facebook was the wrong move from the get-go.