Like political party affiliations, social media isn’t all evil.
However, what evil does exist is hardcore and overwhelming. The amount of good I’ve encountered online has been dwarfed by the deluge of anger, hatred, sanctimony, vigilantism, arrogance, and presumption, to name but a few.
Along with irony. Such as the irony that some will interpret my above view about people on social media as itself being angry, sanctimonious, arrogant, and presumptive. And probably bigoted too.
Most of these people will also be the source of my problem with social media. Eff ’em.
You can no longer have an opinion online unless it’s the ‘right’ opinion. And one person’s ‘right’ opinion is sure as shootin’ another person’s ‘wrong’ opinion.
Where once disagreement was tolerated and maybe even vigorously (but respectfully) debated, now the vast majority of disagreements are treated as proof you’re evil by many who disagree (the “How dare you!” crowd).
Say the ‘wrong’ thing and you can lose friends. If a large enough audience sees it (or is made aware of it via screen cap), you’re barraged with distributed messages of hate. You can end up run off social media (with many smugly saying, “Good riddance”) or, in what are becoming less and less extreme cases, threatened with rape or murder and being doxxed or even swatted.
When did people’s closely held, ‘undeniably true’ beliefs become so fragile they couldn’t withstand frank discussion?
When did a difference of opinion become a hate crime? When did the words “I disagree and here’s why” become hate speech?
When did civility become verböten?
When did “You’re wrong!” literally become equated with “You deserve to die!”?
No matter what I say, I know that speaking my mind will upset someone.
So for a long time now I’ve been keeping my head down and my mouth shut about certain topics because I have no idea who might be offended or how they’ll react.
But lurking on social media doesn’t protect you from seeing what’s happening to others.
People piled onto. Bullied. Threatened. Even driven to suicide.
Angry mobs jumping onto the latest outrage bandwagon without knowing all the facts because the perceived transgression is so antithetical to their belief system that even checking the facts is considered giving too much ground to that damned dirty other side.
It is shockingly easy to think this is OK at first, when your beliefs and the mob’s are aligned.
Until the mob moves into territory you think is hallowed ground, or at least neutral territory.
Then you begin to perceive the danger to yourself. Or possibly experience it directly.
It’s exhausting and disturbing to witness, even when I don’t support the attacked belief or statement.
So I’m stepping back from social media. Have already, in fact. I’ve gone cold turkey for a week now, and so far, my hands are steady and I don’t miss it.
The lunatics are running the asylum. They can have it.