Things have been so intense in our nation lately that it is being reflected in social media – everyone seems separated by their political and religious beliefs – so much so, that they cannot be the caring, information sharing type of friends on social media like they once were. It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen – the anger, the meanness, the bullying, vile language, name-calling, verbal attacks, and even violence.
I’m not talking about lively debates here, I love lively debates. I’m talking about the drive-by commenter just pop in to call names or leave a vile comment, rather than researching the topic at hand. You know the type…… It zaps the positivity from the online experience and can even affect people’s lives in real life, outside of social media.
The news media seems to be playing a huge part in this as well which is something I don’t recall ever seeing before in my life. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention when I was younger? Sometimes I have a vision of them throwing some food into the water the piranhas go nuts over it.
Social media was meant to bring people together and teach and learn from each other, so this entire vicious phase we are currently experiencing is just heartbreaking to me. I’ve seen people get into the biggest ugliest go-nowhere fights on facebook – usually one or two in the thread trying to impart some information with others, but gets verbally attacked rather than having lively conversations – you know the difference when you see it. I’ve even seen people actually requesting addresses of people so they can come ‘teach them a lesson’ because they didn’t like a person’s point of view.
Our human experience can be so rich when we converse with each other and share information and perceptions, and the reasons behind those perceptions. The internet has allowed people to research things to a level unheard of when I was young – you can look up ANYTHING, and find information about it. The trick is to know the difference between an ‘original source’ and ‘opinion piece’.
I thought it might be a good time to list out some things that you can do to bring peace to your online world. I have gone to bed so many times worrying about a conversation I watched or participated in on Facebook, sometimes very intense with nobody willing to read the original source, but rather bully and use horrible verbiage they would NEVER use to someone in real life unless they were truly ready for a fist fight. Maybe that’s where we’ve evolved to, where everyone actually is ready to have a fist fight – I hope not.
I didn’t want to get rid of facebook, as it keeps me connected with my out of state family, and a way of keeping connected with other musicians all over the world. But I did want to get rid of the conflict that was bothering me so much. I was tired of spending days feeling bad about someone verbally attacking me on facebook, for doing nothing more than posting a link to the source.
Here’s some things you can do, if you also want to remove the conflict but keep the connections:
- Unfollow people who consistently post controversial topics and causes tension purposely with people (do not unfriend, but rather unfollow)
- Limit your time on social media – its too easy to get sucked into that black hole
- Avoid posting controversial topics that attract the haters (politics and religion appear to be two consistent triggers that bring haters out of the woodwork)
- Do not respond to posts where people are arguing in an unhealthy way – if you do respond you will constantly be notified anytime someone posts on that thread and keep that thread right in your face – it will keep you involved in the conflict
- If you absolutely feel you must reply to something controversial, do not reply unless you have done your homework from the source – not from opinions, but from the source – and include link to the source in your reply, speak from truth and facts
- Shut down the computer and take a hot bath, then go to a movie or out to dinner
- Worst case scenario shut down your facebook account – you might be surprised at how much time it frees up in your world (this is the saddest thing in my opinion)
This entire situation breaks my heart, because I feel in a normal environment, it is the controversial topics that cause people to learn from each other. The cognitive dissonance causes people to learn from each other, and in my opinion, is a good thing for humankind. The problem lately, is people are NOT willing to learn from one another at this point in time, and therefore unable to have a conversation without it turning nasty. Rather, they view it as a license to bully and attack, rather than share information – so, so sad.
I am hoping that this changes in our world someday soon, and hope we get back to having lively debates and learning from each other again. But, this hate thing – the language, the bullying, and the verbal attacks – just breaks my heart.
I wrote a song about this – obviously quite distressed about what I’ve been seeing and this song just kind of fell out on its own. I think it sums up the situation.
If you’ve experienced similar internal conflict over the social media atmosphere that is bullying and verbally abusive, please feel free to post your thoughts below. I’d love to learn from you.