“Social media.” What a joke. I think that term is one of the biggest misnomers of my lifetime – at least now it is. That’s because, on most “social media” platforms, I find very little of what is normally considered “social” activity. The vast majority is more “anti-social.”
I mean, when was the last time you were on Facebook and did not come across a political post by a so-called “friend”? How many times have you posted such things just to be provocative? How often have you commented on a “friend’s” post in a manner that you knew would incite their ire, typing out something that you would never, ever say to their face? The answers to these three questions are probably: “I don’t remember”, “a lot”, and “too often”, respectively.
It’s a shame.
I long for the days when we looked at Facebook (or other social media platforms) to see things that actually renewed or reinforced our connectedness. We looked for events we could celebrate. We looked to celebrate our friends’ accomplishments. We looked to celebrate their trips, their promotions, their new jobs, their new homes, their new cars. We looked to celebrate births, birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.
We also looked to learn about news that was not celebratory. The deaths, divorces, and other travails of life. These events, too, reinforced our connectedness by allowing us to relay our heartfelt sympathies; by allowing us to extend a helping hand; by allowing us, in some cases, to provide useful advice.
Now, it seems, what we celebrate is demeaning someone, berating someone, or having the last word in a political or religious debate. Of course, the pièce de résistance is simultaneously accomplishing all three.
Now, it seems, what we celebrate is “educating” others about their uninformed, biased, and/or fallacious opinions or thought processes. As if anyone is going to have an enlightened moment after reading a social media post.
Now, it seems, what we celebrate is baiting others into confrontation – I will not use the word “debate” because I like using words accurately – so that we can type things out that we would never say to a person’s face.
It’s despicable. It’s anti-social.
I mean, seriously. When was the last time you greeted a friend or relative in person with the introductory line, “Hi, how are you? I’m so glad to see you. Isn’t __________ (insert politicians name) a complete ______________ (insert favorite epithet)?” Or, “Hello. It’s great to see you, but your religious beliefs are stupid.” Or, perhaps, “Good morning stupid. I cannot believe how silly and uninformed you are.”
I hope you would never use any of these greetings in person. If you do (or have), you should seriously consider seeking help. Yet, when it comes to social media, so many people consider it the norm.
Don’t get me wrong, in the past I was one of the worst offenders. I would often post statements or share articles knowing that these would belittle, bemoan, or offend some people. I honestly did it to bait them into a silly argument. And for what? To boost my own ego? Perhaps (err . . . probably).
What a waste of time and energy.
As you can tell, I have a growing disdain for “social” media. Yes, I still check. Yes, I still post. But I try my best to not engage in back-and-forth about issues I find disagreeable. I do my best to post about or share non-controversial topics (or at least topics I think are non-controversial). I want to let my friends know I’m enjoying life, despite all that’s happened (and is happening) this year. More importantly, I want to see my friends enjoying life.
I don’t want to enrage or besmirch my friends (nor them, me).
The last thing I want is for the word “friend” to also become a misnomer.