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Spoiler Alert: You Can Disagree With Someone On Facebook And Not Hate Them

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Self

I know, it's shocking.

While the election of Donald Trump has been devisive for our nation, it's been very good for my Facebook account, particularly for Facebook fights. I'm serious. My Facebook page was once a reliable place to go if I wanted to find out who hated the latest Stars (both Wars and Trek), could quietly stalk ex-boyfriends, and if I was lucky, get a peek at what my fifth grade math teacher had for dinner last Tuesday. 

I was starting to understand why all the too-cool-for-school for youths (who are so cool they would never even say too-cool-for-school let alone the words "youths") were ditching the old FB (sorry 'Zuck) and dominating apps like Instagram and Snapchat instead. 


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Then, the Donald was elected and the fracture in our country became truly visible. Not just by the presence of our newly elected President, but the way in which people reacted to his taking office.

Families have been divided, friends are now enemies, and the drama behind it all has for the most part played out on social media. 

I have tried by and large to stay out of the fray. I have my opinions, but I know that if I write about it too much online I'm going to wind up in argument with someone, and that's the pits. I don't say this because I'm afraid of confrontation (I'm so not "come at me bro, your antagonism sustains me"), I say this because now more than ever the divide between us all is so palpable that I don't want to fight with ANYONE. I want to hear their point of view, share my own, and hope that we can reach a middle ground.

This doesn't happen very often in real-life fights, so why I ever thought it would be possible to do on Facebook, I have no clue. Call it my charming sense of naivete. I didn't keep my opinions to myself, but I did my best to have conversations rather than making grand, sweeping statements.

I was happy to see that so many people were finally talking about stuff that actually mattered but it broke my heart to see that in the process, that divide I keep talking about seemed to be getting even deeper.

One of the issues that people have been talking about a lot lately, due in part to Trump (a silver lining to his win), is all of the ways in which this country has failed women. This is something that keeps me awake at night. It something that makes me ache.

When the "#MeToo" campaign started up on Facebook, I was appalled to see how many women in my life had been on the receiving end of abuse or harassment. Appalled, but in no way surprised.

I was, however, surprised by the way the men I knew on social media responding. They were jumping on the "#MeToo" band wagon as well, and it wasn't sitting right with me.

Here's a thing I need you to understand: I think sexual abuse and harassment is a HUMAN problem. I fully understand that ANYONE can be a victim. However, the truth of the matter is that while toxic masculinity and a wealth of other issues can make it unspeakably difficult for a man to report abuse, abuse by men to women is simply more pervasive. There are numbers. Women are less believed. 


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I think every man I know who was brave enough to share his story is a hero, but I also felt like this was not for them. This was for women. This was to remind me that sometimes the strongest thing they can do is listen and believe. If we want to do another campaign for male survivors, I'm 100 percent down, but frankly, the whole thing felt like men — yet again — being tone-deaf, stepping on the female experience, and fully missing the point. 

It bothered me enough that... I wrote about it. On Facebook. I hemmed and hawed and worried that I'd get the verbal smackdown from any number of people, but that's not what happened. Some people agreed with me. Other people did not agree. I engaged with some people. Other people I did not engage with.

When my co-worker and buddy posted her point of view and it was one that made sense to me, I said just that, thanked her, and said that we just happened to disagree. And that was the end of it. 

We had expressed our opinions, we had listened to each other, and we had moved on. There was no blocking, there were no Facebook fights that devolved, there was no heated social media-based drama dripping with juiciness and the pointed jabs you can only make when you're behind a computer and not staring someone right in the face.

We listened to each other. We heard each other. We agreed to disagree. And I honestly think our shared and varied opinions just made the importance of the issue of sexual abuse even more well-underlined and understood.

You heard it here first. It is absolutely possible to have a fight on Facebook and not block someone or tell them to f*** off. It is possible to take a risk and say something that you know will not sit well with everyone and then have great conversations afterward.

It is way, way, way too easy to start stuff on Facebook. What's harder? Making change on Facebook, but I think we can get there if we want to, and I think that this exchange is proof. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark, on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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