While it's a popular social media network that allows people to stay connected, Facebook can be problematic. It has the potential to leave individuals in an emotionally vulnerable state. Particularly people who are considered to be inferior to society at large. For many of these people, Facebook can be a place that inevitably causes distress and other unpleasant feelings due to the content they may come across on their newsfeed.

These feelings can occur regardless of the intimacy of the relationship the user has with their ‘friend.’ It doesn’t even matter if the ‘friend’ isn’t actually posting racist, ableist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, or just downright cruel statuses and articles.

Simply being aware that some of the people the user is connected to are ‘liking’ them hurts just as much. To make matters worse, sometimes targeted users find themselves reading these affronting articles, statuses, and comments, which leaves them feeling horrible - and sometimes conflicted - inside. Should they be so sad they feel sick to their stomachs or so angry they feel as if a fire was burning in their very souls?

Despite their feelings, many targeted Facebook users find themselves wondering the same thing: do the people who post and ‘like’ prejudice articles truly believe in their cruel and inaccurate innuendoes?

Others find themselves wondering if these people hold the same beliefs when it comes to them and to their families. Having to question such things leaves these users in a very isolated and invalidating space.

Receiving unhelpful advice

Sometimes, confiding in friends who don’t share the same social status of the user about the pain Facebook can cause can make matters worse. One of the worst, and unfortunately more common, responses is “just don’t get on Facebook.” The advice can be offered so nonchalantly it’s as if the friend was suggesting the user was asking for trouble, just by using one of the most common social media platforms of the age.

Of course, it’s likely they thought they were being helpful. However, what the friend was really doing was suggesting the user didn’t belong on Facebook and shouldn’t access a space that they themselves were free to occupy without suffering from any mentally devastating consequences.

The response of “just don’t use the site” can inflict just as much pain, if not more, than some of the posts that target and degrade certain Facebook users.

Especially when you consider the purpose Facebook serves in many peoples’ lives: it allows people to stay connected to friends they don’t have the opportunity to see very often. In addition, it’s a place where users can share what's on their mind and ask about the opinions and experiences of their ‘friends.’ To just quit using Facebook altogether would leave many users feeling rather permanently detached from people they may not want to let go of. And why should they have to?

A surprisingly simple solution

Fortunately, there is a very simple way to ensure your Facebook feed is a safe and welcoming place.

It may feel extreme at first: it’s not uncommon to have an aversion to un-friending people on Facebook. You may wonder if you really want to cut someone off so permanently and you may wonder if they’ll judge you or label you as being ‘too sensitive’ for doing so. These concerns are silly and they allow targeted users to continue to be demeaned in ways they don’t deserve.

To refine and perfect your Facebook newsfeed, use the “two to five chances” rule. If a ‘friend’ is continuously using offensive terminology or ‘liking’ problematic articles or statuses unfriend them. Not automatically, of course.

If the ‘friend’ is someone you’re not particularly inclined to stay connected to, give them two chances before you leave them behind. If you generally like the ‘friend’ and wish to remain connected to them give them five chances before considering the idea that their voice is no longer one you need to have access to.

If targeted Facebook users would just eliminate as much of the bigotry and negativity from their newsfeed as they can, it would make their Facebook an emotionally safer place. It would also give them a sense of control by giving them the power of choice. The user gets to decide who and what they consider to be acceptable and to be seen.

Everyone should have this power and everyone should utilize it. Other people should not have the power to make anyone feel subordinate or feel awful about themselves, especially when they’ve done nothing to deserve it. The best solution is to simply take that power away from them.

Don’t tolerate people who reject ‘political correctness’ and say whatever they want under the pretense of having the freedom of speech. The truth is, those people just want to be detrimental and prejudicial without suffering any consequences. Sure, everyone does have the Freedom Of Speech, and everyone has a right to their own opinion.

But, that does not mean they have the right to force that opinion on anyone else. Understand that it’s not worth anyone’s time or emotional effort to constantly engage with those types of people. Set a limit for yourself. And if that limit is crossed, don’t hold back: cut that person off. You’ll thank yourself for it everytime you scroll down your newsfeed.

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