Ruining My Poor Instagram

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It’s hard to escape the difficulties of the day.

I think when things get mighty tragic, we all need a release that has nothing to do with the suffering.

It was especially challenging during Corona, since everything and everywhere was Corona-related for two years of our lives. The news? How this or that country was affected by Corona. How the economy was being impact by Corona. These are the celebrities or politicians currently hanging out at home, making dumb videos during lockdown. Social media, from Instagram to LinkedIn, was Corona 24-7.

There was no theater or sports or hobbies. Just disease watch, all day and night.

War vs Corona


But the war is at least a little different. Sure, my life became inundated with things that were war related. Work was impacted. School was impacted for the kids. And my Facebook feed was littered with pithy one-liners that make those who agree feel nice, but go completely ignored by those they seek to influence.

But we all had our one place to hide, since it’s a big world out there, and not all of it was immersed in a war.

For me, as always, it was Mixed Martial Arts. It was fight news. It was catching up on the craziness from the night before, watching the most talented mixed martial artists in the world bleed for my entertainment, as they’ve been doing for me for nearly a decade.

Politics was not a part of my experience. Sure, it came up on occasion. Donald Trump attended some fight cards and some fighters expressed their admiration for him. But I never gave it much attention, since Trump’s been a gimmick of television entertainment since long before he was president of the United States, whether it be his own reality show or having a cameo in Home Alone 2 or getting inserted into the storyline of pro wrestling. He’s a bombastic and divisive individual. So I just considered it part of the show.

But it’s not real politics. I wasn’t choosing which fighters to admire based on their stance on abortion or homosexual marriage. I watched people fight each other, and that’s why I was there.

Unpleasant on Instagram


But the other day I had an uncomfortable experience.

I’m not one for unfriending and unfollowing people to take a stand on an issue. I have never unfriended anyone on Facebook because I didn’t like what they had to say on a topic. And I’ve never unfollowed someone on Instagram because their post rubbed me the wrong way. Well, that is, until recently.

I am a firm believer in doing everything in my mental power to separate art from the artist. If I couldn’t benefit from the talents of people who had thoughts and beliefs repellent to me, I’d be beyond limited in what I could enjoy. I refuse to not laugh at the television antics of an actor because he wrote a tweet a few years ago that upset people’s sensibilities. Not my style. And if I discovered that the music I was listening to was written and performed by an antisemite or a racist or someone who supports violence against children or someone who butters his bread with the butter side down, I’d shrug and continue on listening.

The world is filled with abhorrent thoughts and opinions, and sometimes they are possessed by the people who create great movies and songs and standup comedy routines. To the best of my ability, I try and ignore the former to appreciate the latter.

But when I saw two UFC fighters in a row posting on Instagram about the war, and accusing Israel of genocide, a piece of me broke.

And I clicked to unfollow them almost immediately.

Next Level Too Soon


It’s not really about separating the art from the artist. I still appreciate both of their talent. And I’ll still watch them fight. And I even enjoy their banter and antics as entertainers in the fight world.

But there are three reasons I had to step away:

First of all, this war is young. When I saw these posts, Israel was still burying people massacred on October 7th. Babies were being taken into captivity! I’m all for nuance and debate and an intelligent discussion about the overall situation. But everyone has their limits. When your family has just been massacred, you’re not yet ready for a contrarian opinion.

The dust needs to settle.

This was more than I was yet ready to handle.

Instagram is for Happy Fun


Second, this is Instagram. It’s for happy fun time. I don’t take it seriously at all. For the most part it exists in my life for three reasons: Updates about and pictures of friends, UFC news and clips, and dumb memes that will hopefully get a smile out of me.

When my Instagram feed is filled with offensive political nonsense, it’s taking a mindless outlet in my life and turning it into a hostile and uncomfortable environment. We all need our safe places to separate ourselves from the hardships of life. If you damage my corny and meaningless happy zone with false accusations of genocide, I’m forced to stop following you. You have every right to your misguided and ignorant opinions. But I also have every right to not interact with them at all.

UFC is Apolitical


Finally, UFC is one my greatest escapes in this world. I’ve even written about how enjoying this incredible sport is one of the ways I was able to tolerate being apart from my children when they were pulled off to the other side of the world. I love watching the fights and I am beyond grateful to have this outlet.

But among other reasons for this love is that it’s an apolitical environment. Sure, people will cheer for those from their home country. That is and will always be a part of sports.

But for the most part, the political and religious opinions of the individual fighters are left at home. No one cares. We’re all here to watch incredible athletes put there health on the line to entertain the hell out of us. And the two fighters I unfollowed have entertained me plenty. I have followed their careers and will continue to do so. They are both Muslims, and I am under no illusion they can approach the war with Hamas objectively, or that we would be able to have a pleasant interaction if we were to meet in person.

But that doesn’t mean I need to see their ignorant and hateful rhetoric on Instagram.

I moved on.

Sadly, I was left with no choice.

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