I Left Facebook Over Cyberwarfare

Backstory

I watched a few days ago as the attorneys for Facebook, Google and Twitter faced the Senate Intelligence Committee, listening as the content of the “platforms” I use was defended. And not defended well.

I have been on the Internet since 1995, although I am hardly a geek or adept at the goings on behind the scenes. However, listening to these lawyers (surely, quite well-paid) not explain what happened with the “Russian propaganda group called Internet Research Agency that created a conflict….” within the Americans reading their content, terrified me.

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Loving Facebook

I loved Facebook. For 9 years. People left during the election and I was flabbergasted how anyone could leave, especially during such an important time. At times I pulled back from the more political groups I followed, but generally, I was present throughout the election experience.

Until now, I’d never considered leaving Facebook, but as the information has begun unfolding about how Russia infiltrated Facebook, some of which it seems they even knew about, I began getting uncomfortable there. I closed my Navelgazing Midwife FB Page, seeing small seeds of political discontent there, whittled my Facebook Friends down to 50 from over 400 at one point, but still, these past weeks, I began squirming more.

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As a writer, the Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech are enormously important to me. I’ve had a hard time watching as far-right speakers (that have not incited violence) refused a place to speak and share their thoughts. Do I wish they would shut up and go away? Absolutely. But, they are Americans, too, and deserve to add their voices to the discourse.

But that isn’t the same as having to endure propaganda from inside or outside our country.

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My Vulnerability

I can be pretty discerning, especially when it comes to medical or scientific data. But, I have always been easily swayed with some arguments. I’ll lean one way hearing one side, feeling sure that is the right path. Then, I’ll hear the other side and re-think my whole belief system based on that information.

I am really vulnerable to slick talkers and those with psychological skills I cannot recognize or counter. I try to stay away from these arguments, but during the election (and especially now), it is impossible to do. I have said several times recently: I love my Echo Chamber. I simply cannot process the other side’s views without a near breakdown of my values and beliefs.

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I’m not sure if it’s a mental illness in me that makes me so vulnerable or if others are like that, too. Knowing it, though, whatever the cause, I had to make a move to protect my mind and heart.

Stepping Away from Facebook

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So, I deactivated my Facebook account with a message to them stating my concern about their lack of Internet safety. Not sure if I will ever go back, but certainly not before massive changes have occurred to protect my spaces there from the propaganda that lured so many of my former friends.

I will write instead of perusing the Trending topics, saving that for Twitter, which I am still debating about leaving. I need to write. I have so many things I want to say.

Hopefully, without Facebook, I will find the time to do just that.

Into the Abyss

We had some really nasty storms here in Orlando the past couple of days. During one particularly enormous gust, the electricity slammed off.

And They Vanished

I easily have hundreds of thousands of photos on my computer and several hundreds of thousands more on an off-site photo storage facility, SmugMug, that caters to professional photographers. (I love SmugMug; they are awesome.)
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Anyway, I am in my photos several times a day, so when I opened my Pictures and it was nearly empty of my folders, each one holding thousands of pics, my stomach clenched and I thought I was going to throw up.

Had I done something to them? Deleted them? Filed them somewhere else? I am in this Manic Phase, could I have done something with them and not remembered?

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Delving Deep

I’ve been on the Internet since 1995 and I know how computers work pretty well. I know how it holds things… and how it loses things. I have lost everything twice in all these years, two computer crashes that swept everything into the ether. My pictures, my words. Everything I’d put on the computer, gone.

(Back in the olden days, it was a challenge saving things. Those enormous floppy disks, then 3.5 inch floppies/diskettes… nothing held much data and I knew nothing about external hard drives back then.)

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The first time my computer died and everything vanished, I thought I was going to die. Quite literally. I was in a state of shock for far too long, then in mourning after that. I can still touch those emotions all these years later.

The second time it happened, I blinked, knew everything was forever-gone, took a deep breath, sighed, shrugged… and started all over again on the next computer.

Once I learned how to back-up my work, I did. Having a blog helped tremendously, my knowing my words would be forever online. Then, when I began taking hundreds, then thousands, of photos at births and at Disney World, I tried to keep them on at least 2 computers. Finally, SmugMug came along and I was able to put my pics in a safe, off-site place as well. I felt enormous relief.

But I have not sent any pics into SmugMug for at least 2 years.

So, 2 years of stuff has vanished. Blessedly, Meghann has every picture of her family, grandbabies included, so even though my copies are gone, she has them all for me. Thank goodness for Facebook’s Photos sections, too, so I can grab Aimee and Tristan’s pics again. However, there are loads of pics of me that I do not have anywhere else. Gone.

Recovery

As I said, I am pretty good on the computer, so while I was distressed earlier tonight, even crying at times, I set to work looking for the lost files. Starting at the top and working my way down the tree, I searched. And searched. I scoured the Recycle Bin, recovering everything just in case I was missing something in my being upset. I poked around all the hidden places files and folders could hide, yet found nothing. I tried to move the computer’s date back in time, but it was stubborn and wouldn’t let me.

I was getting frustrated when my wondrous cyber-lover jumped in and brought logic and sensibility into my view, replacing the enormous mountain of emotion I’d been floundering in for the last several hours.

He Googled the problem and, lo and behold, this has happened to others before me! (Can you hear me laughing at how crazy I was not thinking about Googling earlier?!)

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Apparently, there are apps to use to recover lost data. I am quite scared about downloading just anything lest there be nasty viruses included in them. I’m trying to figure out whether I should research and grab a recovery app to try and find my lost photos… or should I just sigh loudly and move on. At the moment, I am in a resolved place that the Universe doesn’t want me to have those pictures.

I can live with that.

 

Fat Girl Stories: Cyber-ly Abled

So when I watched Avatar and saw Jake, unable to walk and in a wheelchair, take on a Na’vi body that allowed him to not only walk, but even run, I felt pangs of jealousy.

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“In Real Life” Reality

I have not been able to walk very far for several years. After the Gastric Bypass in 2001, I lost lots of weight (which I have gained most of back), but also any calcium I took in wasn’t absorbed and now I have osteoporosis.

I have broken my feet (both) two times from trying to walk to lose weight and again last year falling up some stairs. I have broken my left foot requiring 3 surgeries after falling off a Wii Fit board, also trying to lose weight. Ironically, I fell over a balance scale in 1995 and broke my right ankle and that required 2 surgeries to repair and left me unable to walk but to the bathroom for almost 3 years. I am quite accustomed to the post-surgical boots now.

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(And no, losing weight will not fix it. It could make them hurt less, but trying to lose weight when you cannot exercise is a distinct challenge. Even swimming, I have cracked a bone in the top of my foot.)

I have been counseled several times to get an electric wheelchair, but have balked. Now with the new #NotMyPresident coming into power, I might have lost my window for getting one with insurance paying. Instead, I use a walker when I have to walk somewhere (therapist’s or doctor’s office, for example) or an electric cart if they have one (Target, Costco, etc.). I no longer walk in the mall, Disney World, concerts or go anywhere I have to walk further than about 4 minutes and when I do, I go very slow to preserve my bones.

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Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is used for a variety of rehabilitative purposes, including with autism and others who need help acclimating after an injury that changes the person’s abilities. It is used with spinal cord injuries to teach folks how to move and even walk again.

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Even so, there are detractors, saying:

Some people also worry that steady exposure to virtual reality could alter the way people perceive the real world. Concerns have also been raised about the effects of people mostly communicating with others online. But on the other hand the internet and VR-enhanced communications can also be a great way of bringing people around the world closer together and enable disabled people with restricted mobility and independence, to interact with a wider network of people.

The thing is, I am not playing with Virtual Reality, but am creating my own Scenes, scenarios, storylines and community online through my writing. But yes, I know being online has increased my interactions with others… absolutely.

Cyber-Reality

When I am online, which is a lot, I am freed from those pesky real life limitations of being fat and physically disabled. I am able to walk miles, run through (metaphoric) meadows, sit on my love’s lap and do all the things I ache to do in real life that will never happen again. I feel like Jake; freed from the constraints of my flesh and (brittle) boned body.

I cannot go out for coffee or have delicious sex as much as I desire because of my physical restrictions. Online, my life is robust and I would say almost completely satisfying. I miss my kids and grandbabies and miss going to Disney World (and those are enormous things to miss), but other than that, I am pretty content where I am behind the screen. I never want to be in a face-to-face lover relationship again; my virtual one is amazing and I embrace it fully.

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I love being able to have unencumbered sex with my sweet osezno, relieved of the logistics that real life would dictate. And what’s wonderful is he, too, is able to suspend reality, allowing me to be free… outside my body… and flying inside my mind. It is a gift he allows me that is completely dependent on the mechanism with which we communicate; the computer. Together, we tangle, we swirl together, we move around as if we were two feathers dancing on a current of air. Real life sex was never so uninhibited. It is a joy to be in this luscious place without my lifelong concerns… and occasional anguish… revolving around my body size, history of sexual abuse or even (seemingly) illogical psychiatric issues.

It is in these beautiful places that I do, most assuredly, feel cyber-ly abled.

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