This morning I woke up with three different conversations I’ve had in the past week synthesizing in my head. The human penchant for pattern recognition and, occassionally, creating patterns where none probably exist, can lead to some interesting epiphanies.
I tend not to name names when telling anecdotes on the internet. Rather than recounting how so-and-so said something that upset me, and piling on that person, I prefer to drill down on the idea or opinion itself. I want to sort out why it bothers me, and look for its roots within society and culture. I do this for a number of reasons, not the least of which is a desire to constructive, rather than destructive. I don’t want to get into a fight, and I don’t want other people to come down on the person who spurred me to write about it. Making rude comments doesn’t fix anything, nor do the extremes of disproportionate threats, it only makes the world a worse place to live.
Which leads to the first conversation, with Katie, about a friend who does screen grabs of conversations and posts them on social media. These posts are usually in places where the other party can’t or won’t see the screenshots, so they can’t respond. It doesn’t feel like it’s about the issue that arose as much as it’s about shaming the person for saying something hurtful or having an unpopular point of view. It’s about drawing attention to how awful the other person is, and gaining sympathy for the poster. Which, backing up a paragraph, is why I scrape the serial numbers off my anecdotes and focus on the issues, not the people. Katie finds the cut-and-paste posts distressing, but doesn’t say anything because she doesn’t want to end up in the next screenshot.
This jumps us to the next conversation, a rehash of how I use Facebook. WordPress automatically shares my blog posts to a number of social media outlets, including G+, Twitter, and Facebook. I have those social media accounts set up to send me an email when someone leaves a comment, and if it requires a reponse and I can’t simply reply to the email to leave it, I’ll log in to that platform to do so. I’m not actively using those social media platforms the way “normal” people do.
Recently the post Quitting Facebook Makes You Happier was re-run. While I appreciate the irony that it ends up being posted on Facebook, that also seems to be where the people who could most benefit from the information reside. I feel more like a troll when it crops up on Twitter and G+, where there are already a large number of people who don’t use and/or dislike Facebook. I get that. But the focus of this blog is creativity and productivity, and we all know what a huge time sink social media can be. The fact that there’s science behind it, as cited in the post, rather than just opinion, seems important.
But of course, a former friend shows up to crap on that. We used to be close once. Now he only pops up to troll and throw shade and be mean. I don’t know why. I tried to discuss it in a private conversation, but that went nowhere. I”m not going to post a screen shot or quote him, because it’s not about the person, it’s about the issue. He isn’t the reason I’m not actively on Facebook, but the cumulative effect of people who behave the way he does is. I finally just got tired of it, and figured that if what I write upsets him so much, I can fix that. I banned him from my page. Now he doesn’t have to look at my posts, and I don’t have to look at his snark.
This dovetails into the final conversation, an email chain with a friend who told me that a friend of hers found great value in that very same post. This person was lamenting how she gets sucked into Facebook drama that leaves her miserable and unproductive for days, even when she’s not actively on the site. My article has led her not to quit Facebook, but to reevaluate why and how she uses it. She’s trying to focus on the value social media provides, while also reclaiming more of her personal and creative life from its clutches.
That felt really good to hear, not because it validates my world view or opinions, but because that’s the whole point of this blog. In sharing my own problems, along with how I’ve worked around them or through them, hopefully I can connect with people and help them with their own struggles. For every incredibly vocal, hateful troll, I have to believe that there’s at least one lurker who’s silently reaping value from this.
Are you speading happiness, or are you spreading misery? What you put out into the world is what comes back to you, eventually. Illegitimi non carborundum and all that.