A lot of my time online of late is filled with people criticising each other for being themselves. The understanding, when you invite a bunch of individuals into a timeline to be your ‘friends’ is that there’ll never be a cross word and everyone will simply exist in a loving, caring environment that nurtures positivity. That’s pretty unlikely, all told: tolerance isn’t the Internet’s strong point on a good day. Then, there are the moments which I’ve come to identify as the ‘functioning member of society’ tests: do you tick the boxes where, if asked to be an adult for extended periods of time, that’s something you’re both willing and happy to do?
A worrying number of times, people I expect to be at least willing to open their hearts to change would far rather close them for the sake of a quiet life.
This is happening with increasing frequency: someone makes a comment that is neither a) contentious or b) inflammatory and yet the person it is directed at immediately takes it as both and then posts a rebuttal, often making their own shortcomings all the more apparent. The subject matter, lets be honest, is completely irrelevant. A part of my brain might identify this purely as an attention seeking, need to create drama for personal satisfaction moment, but that’s very rarely the case. If I’m a barometer for this, a need to vent is just that: you hit a nerve, so there has to be a response to give me time to think.
Except, of course, you shouldn’t be doing this kind of thing on the Internet to begin with, but on your own, or with someone who needs to hear that same revelation, or even with a therapist who can help you deal with the issues within. There is the possibility by confronting the person via whichever medium you are communicating with that you could get closure, but the chances of this are so slim… effort will most certainly not equal reward. The whole ‘anonymity allows you to express things you might not do elsewhere’ thing is great, but only if you then solve the problem.
Too often, the Internet is becoming the place where you don’t make things better, but worse.
If the alt-right fanboys can ruin this for everybody, who’s gonna notice if I make a mess? I can act in a way that would be impossible to pull of in the Real World, because to exist there there needs to be a level of civility and fundamental acceptance of others… except, of course, that’s now changing too. Woe betide those who think they can get away with being morons when there’s a smartphone camera and the opportunity for 15 seconds of fame. More and more, the power of instant reaction is being highlighted for all manner of brilliant (and disturbing) ends.
This woman’s actions are now making national news thousands of miles from the event. A decade ago this kind of viral awareness would have been impossible, but now news organisations understand only too well the significance of being ‘a functional member of society.’ Watching people, every day, do stuff that is no different from this, makes me wonder at what point the whole fabric of society effectively rips, or whether if enough of this stuff will finally be a catalyst to affect real, lasting change. It isn’t the fault of other people, in a great many cases, that this stuff happens to begin with.
EVERYBODY IS THE PROBLEM.
If you’re using Social media, you are contributing to its demise. Walking away makes things worse. Blocking and muting people acknowledges the problem, but indicates an unwillingness to address the issues, because if you don’t really ‘know’ your ‘friends’ in the first place, how on Earth will you alter their perceptions of what matters? That’s the key to all of this, of course: that is not your job. Feel free to continue to say and do whatever you like, and it is up to other people to decide whether or not to listen… except that solves nothing if your outlook is damaged by personal circumstance.
The truth, of course, inevitably lies at some point between these two extremes.
As a writer, it is becoming apparent that if I wish to tread a particular path, I am going to kop some flack. It is already beginning to happen in certain quarters, and the reintroduction of mutes to Social media’s an early warning sign that maybe the time has come to cut back on what I consider as noise from people unwilling to help themselves and focus on those who have embraced a desire to change. It is hard to maintain a level of positivity when surrounded by those for whom have not as yet reached that stage in their personal journey.
Yes, you can suffer from depression and still function in society, but your coping strategies will vary.
If you’re not prepared to accept the rules when you live in a society, there will be consequences. The Internet has rules too, and not just those who you consider the ‘bad guys’ have to live by them. Everybody does. That means not flying off the handle when someone disagrees with you. It means not making assumptions that people don’t understand the peculiarity of your situation. It all means we are all part of a problem that will only get better once both sides of the fence accept the other’s grass is never greener if the resultant fight over that statement hurts someone in the process.
Everybody is the problem, and accepting this is the biggest issue of all.