“It amazes me that we are all on Twitter and Facebook. By “we” I mean adults. We’re adults, right? But emotionally we’re a culture of seven-year-olds. Have you ever had that moment when are you updating your status and you realize that every status update is just a variation on a single request: “Would someone please acknowledge me?”
― Marc Maron, ‘
I worry about where social media is leading us as a society. I remember a time when logging onto Facebook was a far less stressful task than it is today. Everyone seemed a bit nicer and the world didn’t seem as distraught and downtrodden. Believe it or not, there was a time when even Facebook was a pleasant place to be. Now, I can hardly click-through the filth to find something worthwhile. Welcome to my daily struggle with this particular platform.
I activated my Facebook account in 2008 or 2009. I initially had one to communicate with old friends and classmates from high school and college. Back then, Facebook was about connecting people to other people and it was a much more positive place than the one we have all become accustomed to. I could log in and have conversations with the people I cared about most, on a wide array of subjects, without someone obstinately imposing their opinions, beliefs and ideas upon the thread. Now, please do not misunderstand me, I love to talk with people from all walks of life. My Facebook feed (currently) is full of people who have a wide variety of views that I may not personally share. I like to keep that dynamic in my life because not everyone will see the world the way you do, but to push them out of your life because of that is childish and ultimately, juvenile. These days, I can’t log on without watching all out war.
I think that we’ve lost that personal connection, that human element in it all. I know this isn’t news to any of you, but the 2016/2017 election changed everything about social media, and Facebook in particular. What was once a place to chat and post among friends and family has become an all out war zone for the vast majority of the populace. I can’t go more than five seconds without watching someone vilify or chastise another person for having an opinion that differs from their own. I mean, heaven forbid, right? What was once a ‘safe’ place to share your thoughts has now become a breeding ground for anger, frustration and indifference. It’s as if the empathy has been sucked right out of the site. If you look at how Mark Zuckerberg has managed it all, it isn’t hard to see why.
When I read that Facebook execs won’t even let their own children have access to this site, I’ll admit, I started to genuinely get worried. It isn’t lost on me how unhealthy it’s all become, but to read that really solidifies it. It’s no secret that Facebook has taken over almost every aspect of our lives online. It buys out other popular apps (I’ll include a link below to the Wiki because it is VERY uncomfortable to read…especially the last one stating “Government Issued ID Verification Platform” from 2018. You know, this year.), it poaches execs from Google and other prominent businesses and it utilizes an algorithm most of us aren’t fond of. To hear that the people who have an intimate knowledge of the platform and its innermost workings won’t even allow their loved ones the ability to use their own product is a HUGE deal. That, if anything, shows just how poisonous it all has become. It’s all extremely unsettling.
So, how do I combat the negativity? This was a question I didn’t have an answer to until today, when I came across the photo of a friend’s child at school. To summarize the post, my friend is the mother of such a wonderful boy. This little guy has autism and I know he has some hard days sometimes, but his indomitable spirit always shines through in his mother’s posts. The love she has for him is genuinely palpable and it always brightens my day every time. This particular post was in regards to receiving a text from the teacher while your child is at school and all of the immediate stresses that go along with it. There’s the best twist, though, this time the teacher sent a photo with the sweetest caption, “N
ame edited asked we send this to you.” There he is, school coloring project on his head, with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. “Please tell him that Mommy is so proud of him”, she wrote back. (Que the tears now, folks.) That’s it. That post made my morning, and in that very instant I posted a quick blurb and logged off. I had finally figured out how I was going to reclaim my internet time: log off as soon as something makes you feel good.
It seems so simple and yet I cannot believe I hadn’t thought of it until now. I mean, why haven’t we all? Why subject ourselves to the hatred and filth on a daily basis just for the ounce of happiness and kindness we actually do receive in the end. The cons vastly outweigh the pros and I’m always left with the worst taste in my mouth, mostly because I’m biting my tongue over one thing or the other. This solution, this unplugging after a warm moment, is one tiny way I am waging my own war on Facebook. If it cannot behave itself, I won’t be a part of it. By teaching myself to be satisfied with the good I find, I think I can ultimately turn my whole perspective on Facebook around. In doing this, I can make it meaningful again. I don’t want to deactivate my profile for the fiftieth time and I don’t want to lose contact with the people I care about. This, to me, seems to be a good way to mitigate it all.
If there is one thing I’m learning through all of this, it’s that I need to prioritize more. There are people I’m keeping Facebook around for and I should do a better job of integrating them into my ACTUAL life instead of solely relying on the internet to keep us together. Instead of posting a lukewarm comment on a post, maybe I should send a text and do lunch instead. What this has done is illuminate the things I do find important and I’m learning every day to make better choices in the relationships I hold dear. Distance doesn’t mean I have to be lazy about our friendship and Facebook is making us just that, lazy. I am filled with regret knowing a lot of people I care about play such a casual role in my life. Well, not anymore. I think I’m finding my way through it all.
Today is day one of my new approach to Facebook. I’ll admit, it’s hard to not pick up the phone and read whatever is being posted, but that defeats everything I’m trying to do. If Facebook won’t change for the better, than I must change to make it better for myself. I urge you all to try this technique for a week. I mean, what’s to lose? You may actually find that there’s plenty to gain, like your life. We only have one and I know we are all just trying our best to sail through the endless sea of discord that our country has become. I invite you all to make your days a little brighter with me. Take a stand against negativity and unplug….just pull that cord. It’s all about baby steps and putting one foot in front of the other, together.
**I’ll leave you all with this.**
“Be a person that others will look for your posts daily because they know you will encourage them. Be the positive one and help others to have a great day and you will find that not only they like you but you will like you too.”
― John Patrick Hickey, ‘