Hoo, boy, y’all. I am not enjoying the overall state of the world much right now. Time feels like it is not only speeding up, but careening down a twisty mountain road with no safety railing. Many people are so raw that you can hardly take a breath without pissing somebody off. I absolutely believe that our collectively fraught and combative mindset is heavily exacerbated by social media. The monster has slipped out from under the bed to make things exponentially worse.
If you’re giving me the stink-eye right now because I’m posting this on the internet, feel free. This is my personal website, not a well-known social media site. We’re talking the difference between a small-town coffee shop on a Thursday afternoon and a Super Walmart on Black Friday. Even if somebody tries to start a virtual riot up in here, they ain’t gettin’ past my comment moderation.
Here’s what I’m seeing too much of these days: otherwise intelligent individuals, sometimes in high-profile roles at well-known companies, regularly losing their minds in public on social media in a manner that could feasibly be detrimental to their personal or professional relationships. They are so caught up in their outrage that they don’t even realize that what they’re posting might come back to haunt them, and it could happen to any of us. Something you or I may consider to be entirely rational, gently humorous, or a fun bit of satire, may trig-trig-TRIGGER others in a very-very-bad-no-good-at-all way. We’ve arrived, folks, at a stage where everybody is on edge and genuine danger lurks around every corner, traffic light, bit, and byte.
I’ll use Facebook as an example as that is the only social media site I actively post words on. I hauled back hard on my Facebook posting a couple of years ago after I realized that I was creating some of my own problems via the dreadful habit of oversharing in a public domain. I spewed here and there about work (biggest possible mistake, learn from my errors). I also sometimes tossed posts up without considering whether it would cause my family worry. I received an attention-getting smack-down when Mom kicked my ass over something that got to her via local gossip in my hometown before I’d had a chance to inform her with a phone call. Ya know what? It was fully deserved. So, I sat down and took a hard look at my personal social media habits. They were not a complete train wreck, but they weren’t real good either. An audience is a terrible temptation, and often causes us to make poor choices in the heat of the moment. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
For me, something had to change, and it was my own social media behavior. Giving it up entirely was not really an option as my FB account serves as our household’s primary link to some members of our extended families. Upon careful consideration, I realized that there are folks on my friends list on Facebook who are very mindful indeed of their social media presence, and I now attempt to emulate those individuals. My current rule set is: Don’t go nuts, don’t be shrill, don’t post anything that you wouldn’t say to somebody’s face in public in front of witnesses while stone-cold sober and in a reasonably good mood.
I am not compromising the core of who I am, but I do like to think that I am gradually maturing into an individual whose Outside Voice only runs amok around folks I trust implicitly. And the cats, because they can’t narc on me.