I had a blog back in my college days (…all two years of them.) I signed up for one because a lot of my friends were using them at the time. It was a lot fun having our clique (yes, I did just use that word) blogging on the same website. And it was even MORE fun when one someone would forget to log out of their blog and the rest of us would have a whale of a time posting things that were not, um, “flattering” on our friend’s page. It was understood, though, that this was the rule. If you left it open, you accepted the consequences.
I had a great time for the six months or so that it remained lighthearted. It was around this point that the drama kicked in. People began to use their blog as a vehicle for them to either create tension, start rumors or pick fights. “Keyboard Courage” is what this phenomenon is called. I know that back then, I didn’t always handle those instances in the best fashion. I rant about crazy children, bad drivers, Twinkies and anything else that seems to make sense to me at the time. And I also realize that I do a little bit of ranting on my blog or Facebook, or whatever I’m using at the moment. I do think that a blog or social media is supposed to be a place that you can share what’s on your mind but I do believe that there is such a thing as TMI. And why shouldn’t it be? But a place to specifically create problems? Ew. Those college years were at a point in time where I was very green in the ways of social media (it was brand new to me back then) but I have since become more savvy at navigating its ever-changing aspects. One thing in particular, and perhaps most importantly, that I have learned over time is that even though I’m entitled to say anything I want on my blog (or Facebook or twitter, etc…) this freedom comes with reasons to be cautious about what I ultimately post. I understand that anyone can technically say anything that they feel like – it’s just that they had simply better prepare themselves for the consequences, should there be any.
I understand why I should examine and put consideration into what and how I say things. There are two inherently important reasons why I do this and would encourage others to do the same: 1.) because the words that you use and the way that you say things paint a very clear picture of the type of person that you are. And 2.) the words that you use and the way that you say things can have a profound affect on the people around you. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth will most surely speak and sometimes, no, our actions do NOT speak louder than our words. Especially when one is using the great wide web, sometimes those words are the first thing or ALL that people will know you by. Let that sink in.
This brings me to the second reason I’m writing this, my own delusions have been crushed lately. I should not have held on to false hope that once the election last year passed that the political conversations would die down. It’s a good thing in some aspects that it has not – we shouldn’t only be educating ourselves or keeping in the know when it’s election season. That’s our duty 24/7 (or at least, kind of often) as Americans. We were given much by our forefathers and by our preceding generations that we should feel compelled to mindful of our current situations and of our country’s rich history and foundations. Humans are communicative beings, we love having something to talk about and politics is no exception. We love to share what we know, one way or another. We have all engaged in political discussion at some point in our lives, and now a days, I know that I’m doing that more and more over social media. It’s natural that someone would want to turn to the likes of Facebook, or blogging or whatever else there is to convey their opinion. I know that I have done that. We are all “connected” (if you can call it that) by the web more than ever. Indeed, quite a bit of where I found my news, either intentionally or not, these past six months was through social media and the information that my friends would share.
Here is where things can easily go wrong. I don’t take issue with the sharing of information, I don’t see the ultimate harm in that. But once someone feels the need to shove our information down people’s throats, pick fights or (my favorite) make blanket statements putting down those who do not agree, well that is when things start to suck. The tone of political discourse has changed from people who hold a respect for differences of opinion by dignified means to those who can talk the loudest and those who can be the most condescending. We have turned into a culture that would rather must WIN the discussion than GAIN from the discussion. And sometimes, arrogance doesn’t isn’t an accurate way to describe the tactics that people will use to “win” the conversation.
The reason that I am writing to you all about this very subject is because lately I can’t help but notice some of the things people are putting out there. I can’t help but be taken back by the tone of what should be either light-hearted or innocent social media posts but instead, they or their back and forth responses from people are chalked full of bullying and condescending attitudes. Don’t misunderstand me, tt isn’t that I’m shocked by the fact that there are people out there who disagree with what I personally believe in. I’m shocked by the fact that there are people out there who seem so ignorant that they clearly don’t understand that there are going to be people who disagree with THEM. That or they simply don’t care that there are. They’re too busy referencing some seemingly distant and ignorant creature that disagrees with their view (and because of that fact, are HORRIBLE people) that they don’t notice that they could very well be “describing” someone who they are friends with. Who they may be related to. That faceless person that they demean? They may very well be reading every single thoughtless word. Social media has allowed for us to be incredibly desensitized to wordplay. And like I said, most people now a days just want to “win” the conversation, who don’t care what they have to say to do so. So when you couple wanting to win the conversation with a willingness to do whatever it takes…it’s pretty awful.
I hate to be a mother hen and wag my finger at people. Truth be told, the saying is true – when you point one finger at another, four more are pointing back. This is a lesson that we can all stand to take to heart and put into practice. There will always be people who do this, of that I am certain. But I personally am becoming more and more proficient at navigating the sometimes unpleasant waters of politics, social media and all of their occasional unpleasantness. I wish that others would do the same, and save some of their crap for when they’re at home, talking to their husband while wearing pajamas and waving a can of Beeferoni around in the kitchen. No one does that? Well, it’s a good thing that I don’t do that either…
Can’t we all just get along?…What’s that? No?