I’d been an avid social media user since I discovered it in 2009. Facebook was an absolute savior for me, living in a rural area, with few friends who were married, let alone had kids like me. As soon as I discovered it I was smitten.
It doesn’t take long to get heavily involved in social media, and before you know it, 10-15 minutes of time that was supposed to be spent online turns into hours of doing nothing but staring at other people’s statuses, writing your own, looking at photos of other people’s lives. For some reason I considered this a release, and while I wasn’t hardcore addicted to social media yet, I did find myself spending more time than I should on it. Particularly Facebook.
And for a long time I enjoyed it. I played all the games, watched as my life became absolutely absorbed in a world that really had little to do with the real world. A world where people said what they wanted, and didn’t care. It was all good, most of the statuses were harmless, who cared? I loved it. It was a way for me to socialize without leaving my home, and the only time I really tore myself away was to care for my – at the time – two year old, and clean up the house. And cook. Facebook couldn’t overtake cooking.
Then we moved to a smaller house and we pared down to one car. Facebook became a lifeline, the only way to remind myself that there was a world out there beyond the confines of our small house. Everyone seemed to be on all the time, there was always something to talk about, always something to talk with.
And then, last year, something changed. With some hot button political issues things got nasty. People continued saying whatever they wanted, but what they were saying was offensive, and if someone had an opinion that differed they would mercilessly tear into a person. People who had been friends for years, family members, started unfriending each other because of abstract beliefs they had always held. But for some reason, this was emotionally charged, and nasty, and incredibly hurtful. For the first time since I had first ventured onto Facebook, I became frustrated and upset, and had to take a break. For six weeks I did not get onto Facebook, and removed the app from my phone.
And six weeks later, it seemed that people had calmed down.
Except. . .
Except it seemed that now people were still saying what they wanted to say, no matter what it was about. Some people had decided it was okay if people disagreed with their opinion, and some people were still absolutely not okay with it. But the undercurrent was obvious. . . the hostility remained. A war had happened on Facebook, everyone was a casualty, and a permanent depersonalization had occurred. Somewhere along the line, people stopped believing that there was another person behind the words appearing on Facebook.
I decided to try and be mostly positive, to put up words of wisdom that I thought would be most topical, but mostly haunting George Takei and Doctor Who fan pages. And chatting with my friends, the original reason why I started with Facebook in the first place.
Things hummed along, although a current of tension ran underneath. I’ve watched people say what they want in a public forum, blatantly racist things, things that are inappropriate and should never come from an adult’s mouth. And I’ve watched it translate to happening in person.
I have been stopped in the middle of what I’ve had to say, I’ve been interrupted so people can answer a text message, I have watched people tear down others and expect them not to care.
And I can’t take it anymore.
I just can’t.
Who does this? Who as an adult cannot follow the most common manners, the most common netiquette? It used to be called “flaming”, and it used to get you kicked off message boards, and from Yahoo!Groups. . .
What does any of that have to do with this blog?
My voice may not have a lot of weight. And I’m certain I’m not as interesting as I could be. There are far more interesting bloggers out there, more shocking, funnier. . .
But there’s one thing I know I have: my own outlook.
I believe in kindness, I believe that there is a line between appropriate and inappropriate, and I believe in being compassionate and decreasing the suffering of others. I still believe in happiness, and not the malaise that everyone seems to be content with. I’ve dealt with a lot in life, more than people would expect from me, and I still remain a nice person.
Maybe, just maybe, there are others who still believe in the same things. And maybe we can express our opinions in a nice way. . . I have opinions, strong ones, but I don’t believe I have to put anyone down to argue mine. . .
And I like stuff. Stick around, we may just get along, you and I. . .