I sat shaking while drinking my coffee this morning.
I had left a comment on my local news station about a local story. I was just trying to offer an alternative view. It inspired a dirge of negativity and name calling. Wow. Not a good wow. Just a wow.
The internet provides a medium for people to make quick judgements and be downright nasty with a level of anonymity not previously afforded. My husband compares it to people driving in their cars. You probably wouldn’t cut someone off (budge in line) at your local grocery store. But people feel empowered in their cars to act brazenly in ways they wouldn’t in a face to face setting.
There is a name for this phenomenon- trolls. People who are bored and nasty just for the sake of being nasty.
I also think in this age of instant news and all the negativity it inspires that kind of behavior. People are so angry. It’s why I basically stopped following most of the news and politics. It gave me a ball in the pit of my stomach and filled me with anger. It just wasn’t healthy. It was fostering an “us verses them” mentality that isn’t conducive to being a Christian and loving your neighbor.
Another problem I run into is that people use social media to market and sell. Now, nothing wrong with that, in a sense. But it means that a lot of the hype you see just isn’t real. “I AM SO HAPPY AND FULLFILLED SELLING LEGGINGS TO MY FRIENDS! ERMAGOSH! HERE’S ME ON A YACHT IN FRANCE!” or “GUYS! I AM SO THRILLED THIS CREAM SIMULTANEOUSLY FILLED MY BANK ACCOUNT, RID ME OF CELLULITE, AND I LOST 20 POUNDS!!! I CAN’T STOP GRINNING, GUYS!”
It’s only a slight exaggeration.
I recently befriended another young mom at a park. We connected on facebook and she was instantly trying to sell me stuff. I eventually just stopped talking to her because it was awkward. I wanted to be her friend, not her next costumer.
I have to confess in over-using social media. Ok, just facebook. I’m not cool enough for Instagram and I’m obviously too wordy for twitter. My excuse is that I’ve been mostly housebound for months with my very sick child. That and my closest friend, who literally used to live down the street, has moved a 90 minute drive away.
I think a lot of use (er…miss-use) social media to fill in the gaps in our lives. We get lonely, or sad, or anxious….and those feelings suck so we block it out by scrolling away on our social feed. The problem is- there is a lot of nastiness out there. Trolls gonna troll. People are trying to sell you stuff. The whole thing rings hollow and leaves you feeling empty.
So what to do? In my typical extreme fashion, I’ve seriously contemplated deleting my 9 year old Facebook account. But it is how I stay in touch with my siblings, who I rarely see in person. It’s how my sweet Grandma gets to see my kids and our shenanigans every day.
I need to find some kind of balance. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I need to figure out a way to get the good out of my social media usage (and there is good to be had) while skimming over and minimizing the bad.
Social media is a tool. The problem comes when we try to make it more than that.
I’m going to consciously limit my time indulging in social media. I’m going to listen to the radio more. I’m going to set some goals (even within the walls of my home, where I’m currently spending most of my time). I’m going to do things that feed my soul so I’m not looking to social media to meet a need that it just can’t.