Facebook Proclamations

By: Mormon Heretic
June 3, 2013

facebookI am amazed at how much time people spend on Facebook.  I post rarely, though it is nice to stay in touch with people growing up, even if I don’t comment.  A few years ago, I noticed on Facebook an announcement from one of my Facebook “friends.” He posted his resignation letter from the LDS Church.  I was pretty surprised, but not completely shocked.

I put “friends” in quotes, because he was never a guy I would hang out with.  We were in the same ward, blessed the sacrament together as priests for about 3 years, and we were cordial to each other.  He was much more popular than me, could be caustic with comments, so I pretty much maintained a safe distance to avoid being on the receiving end of a caustic comment.  But like I said, he came from a good family, our families were cordial, we both served missions, etc, etc.  He went away to an art college (in New York I think), while I stayed home and went to a local college.

I remember when he came home from his mission.  Before he could give his homecoming address, he was involved in a serious car accident.  He was in the back seat of a car that was t-boned at a dangerous intersection.  The woman sitting next to him was killed, and he was injured.  His homecoming had to be delayed because of his injuries, and he gave it a few weeks later on crutches.  He gave a fine talk, seemed to have been a good missionary, and I don’t think I have seen him in person since.  I have run into his parents a few times and asked how he was doing. They always responded that he was doing well, living in the east and enjoying his job as an artist.

Following his car accident, I remember a few comments from people that said that since he has just off his mission, if he had been killed, he would have gone straight to the Celestial Kingdom.  With all of his Facebook proclamations, I wonder what those same people would think now. Do we really have any idea how the final judgment will turn out?

So like I said, it was surprising to me to see him post his resignation letter from the church.  I’ve been thinking about writing about it for some time.  While I know that the church isn’t for everyone, I didn’t have any idea why he left.  He has left some caustic comments about the church on Facebook (certainly not out of character), but he didn’t indicate why he left.  I still don’t know exactly why, but months later he posted another Facebook proclamation.  He came out of the closet.  Yup, he is gay.

Perhaps that explains his resignation better, but I’m sure it still doesn’t tell the whole story.  He did say that he loves straight people, gay people, and even the Boy Scouts.  (He was an Eagle Scout, while scouts held no interest for me.)  I know others have posted about divorces, suicides, and struggling medical issues on Facebook.  It is nice for lurkers like me to see how others are doing, but I am still surprised by announcements of resignation from the church, or announcements of gayness, or endless pontificating about politics.  Maybe I am a private person, but I just don’t know that I would post something like that on Facebook.  What are your thoughts?

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10 Responses to Facebook Proclamations

  1. Jeff Spector on June 3, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I am surprised at how some people live their life on Facebook. And it isn’t just younger people. I suppose this is just a media change for them really. In other words, they would be doing the same thing just using another method like email, phone, F2F, etc. It seems to be a need they have as individuals.

    But, because of the nature of it, (easily adding Friends), more people have exposure to this need on Facebook.

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  2. Joy Buhler on June 3, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    I get coming out of the closet on Facebook, because that seems to be part of the natural process of coming out to many people. However, posting your resignation letter on Facebook seems a little off, although I’ve had friends (who are not gay) do that too. So, I don’t know.

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  3. Jenn on June 3, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    About a year into my “faith transition” away from conventional mormonism, I posted a link to a post on our family blog detailing the path we were on (away from the church). Most people I interact with daily, or people close to me, had known for a long time, but the greater circle of friends/old ward acquaintances/BYU roommates still did not know.

    I felt the need to go so very public about it for a few reasons. 1, I am a very open person and yes, I post pretty much everything on social media. It felt disingenuous to not mention it. 2, many observant people were seeing that we weren’t living a temple-recommend-holder-approved lifestyle (nothing wild, but I do wear tank tops) and I tired of the assumptions people would make, so we wanted to set the record straight: we weren’t being lazy, rebellious or apathetic, no one at church had offended us; we had put a LOT of thought, prayer and tears into our decisions. 3, a lot of friends had been through something similar but were still not public about it. we wanted to let others know they weren’t alone if they were struggling with their faith.
    We didn’t post the specific reasons for leaving- I’m happy to share them with individuals but didn’t want to start a public faith-destroying debate. Preaching apostasy was never the goal, just being transparent.

    A lot of the personal stuff I post is to find like-minded people out of my existing network. Sometimes, it’s to crowdsource ideas (I recently posted about a thyroid problem and found out an acquaintance had had the exact same thing and had a local doctor they could recommend as well as some treatment ideas to bring up). I definitely understand that some people want to be private but I find the benefits of openness outweigh the risks for me.

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  4. Nick Literski on June 3, 2013 at 12:45 PM

    I still don’t know exactly why [anonymous subject resigned his membership in the LDS church], but months later he posted another Facebook proclamation. He came out of the closet. Yup, he is gay.
    Perhaps that explains his resignation better, but I’m sure it still doesn’t tell the whole story.

    Thank you for adding that “doesn’t tell the whole story” part. As a man who came out of the closet and resigned his membership in the LDS church at the same time, I’ve been on the receiving end of many “he left because of SIN” comments. Often, they’ve come when I’ve made comments critical of the LDS church, because the person making that accusation is looking for a way to dismiss whatever I’ve said to challenge their faith. The reality is that my gradual loss of faith in Mormonism created the space and opportunity for me to come out. As a zealous believer, I couldn’t allow myself to face the fact of my sexual orientation.

    As to the main point of the OP, there are times when it’s easiest just to “put something out there,” without the angst of going to those you know one at a time. I tried to do the latter, with some success. Then I replied to what I thought was a personal email from Will Bagley, and happened to include the news. Only afterward did I realize that it was a public message from him, via a 300 member listgroup of Mormon book collectors! It was NOT my intention to come out and announce my resignation “en masse,” but in the end, I was really glad it happened that way. The angst was over, and I also received a surprising amount of very kind support from friends and acquaintances. Forums like listgroups, blogs, and Facebook can be pretty handy that way, in the “just put it out there and get it over with” sense!

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  5. Will on June 3, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    I don’t think people realize how stupid they are being. As an employer, I check social media and make decisions accordingly. I know I am not alone.

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  6. alice on June 3, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    I can understand someone wanting to be clear about who they believe they are. Certainly FB is full of many TMB pages.

    As for checking social media it’s possible the person in question is consciously choosing to put distance between themselves and the people who would cast harsh judgement because they chose a different way of life. They may feel they’re better off without that in their lives. Personally, I can’t imagine anything worse than to go out into the world feeling I had to protect a secret or being in the toxic environment where someone with authority in my life is the very sort of person the secret needs to be guarded from.

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  7. hawkgrrrl on June 3, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    In general, I don’t use FB for personal pronouncements, and I prefer not to make them. I mostly just consider myself flexible and evolving all the time. I’ll share my opinions and link articles some may find controversial (even though I don’t), and I’ve truly never encountered anyone being offended and telling me so.

    Actually, the posts that drive me batty are the ones where people are hinting around that things aren’t going well, but they don’t come right out and say it. Between those two evils, just come out with it!

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  8. Mike S on June 4, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I deleted my Facebook account over a month ago due to concerns about how much personal information a for-profit company was collecting about me. It was also a tremendous waste of time.

    I haven’t missed it at all.

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  9. NewlyHousewife on June 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    So instead of writing a resignation letter one can just post a status on Facebook?

    I too find it a bit much for a very public site. For the most part, I follow the “would I say/do this at work?” before posting anything. I’m also very minimal on what I post regarding my daughter just because you don’t know where those pictures/videos/comments end up.

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  10. Jenn on June 6, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    “I don’t think people realize how stupid they are being. As an employer, I check social media and make decisions accordingly. I know I am not alone.”
    I agree with Alice: “As for checking social media it’s possible the person in question is consciously choosing to put distance between themselves and the people who would cast harsh judgement because they chose a different way of life”
    First, my facebook status can only be see by friends. They don’t show up on google. I have a professional twitter account, but facebook is fair game. Even if an employer could see it (and in my case that is likely since half of my professional network are also my facebook friends), I’m ok with my employers knowing that I have a life outside of work, and trust them not to make professional decisions based on it.

    If, as an employer, you would hire people based on personal/religious things they post on facebook, then I do not want to work with you or for you. I’d hope an employer would hire me based on my qualifications. I’m not saying an employer shouldn’t google me- by all means, do, since I’ve worked hard on my professional personal brand. The internet is full of professional blog posts I’ve written. That’s what concerns my future employers, NOT a declaration of religious belief.

    Either way, I never post anything on any social network that I wouldn’t feel comfortable being public. I value transparency and work hard to be a consistent person.

    As a matter of fact, after I wrote my “coming out” blog post, one current boss (not mormon) and one former boss (mormon) both wrote supportive notes and expressed happiness with my honesty. They read it not because they were employers monitoring an employee, but because they were friends I happened to work with- probably because I’m willing to open up my personal life to them.

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