Where did ‘money’ go? Because it seems like ‘money’ left town and social media is the new root of all evil. I am highly frustrated with social media and people in general as I am typing this – so please spare me a moment for my rant and rave. I really don’t hate social media as a whole, just some aspects of it.
What brought this on was a two and a half day massive feud on an expat Facebook group for South Africans living in the Netherlands (with thousands of members) where I was part of the administrative team. To cut a long story short: I majorly bumped heads on Thursday morning with the head administrator as she insisted on a cover photo for the group with an old South African flag on (I am not kidding!) for reasons that it is part of our history etc. For me that was not a good enough reason and I very strongly objected of course! I mean, would it be acceptable to bring the Swastika back into play under the cloak of ‘it’s part of history’?! I don’t think so.
The disagreement reached a point where I resigned from the administrative team as I was not prepared to be associated with or further manage a group where it is acceptable to post the old flag on the cover. When it was announced on the group that I have resigned due to the disagreement about the flag, a bomb exploded with outrage among the members. Most in favor of my views of course, but then the trolls and closet narrow-minds came out. And then things got real ugly. So, it’s two and a half days later and as I am typing the fight is still going on. I have removed myself from the group so luckily I don’t have to see the comments directed at me anymore. Look, I have a thick skin and social media is not for sissies, but it got to the point where I am very sure that this level of negativity is not something I want in my life. It got me thinking about the impact it had on my life and this is my two cents about the negative aspects of social media as how I see it:
- Yes, I am angry and frustrated today, but I am not saying there is nothing good in social media. The purpose of this blogpost is more for me to voice my frustration with the negative aspects of social media that we are all exposed to. This does not mean I am going to close all my accounts and disappear of the face of the earth (I love my little blog way too much!) – it only means that I will be significantly more careful in future with what I will allow to take up my time and energy.
- Ironically has the need for connecting with people through social media disconnected us more than ever from the real people in your life. How often do you not properly listen or pay attention to something your husband or child says due to being on a social media platform? How often are you so busy applying the perfect Instagram filter to your picture of the lunch you are having with your friend, that you forget to actually talk to your friend sitting opposite the table? I know I am guilty! As much as the aim probably was to bring people closer, it has done quite the opposite.
- We sadly live in a world of instant gratification. We all love to get likes and comments on our social media posts, there is no denying that. I for one love to interact with people through my blog’s social media pages and I really enjoy engaging in conversations with the people on the groups I manage and belong to. We are pack animals after all. Unfortunately for many of us (including myself!) there comes a turning point where social media interaction and that instant gratification become such a big part of your life that it borders on an addiction. Who am I kidding?! It doesn’t border on an addiction, it IS an addiction. I cannot tell you how many times I have threatened to do a digital detox. Probably a hundred times and everytime I have an excuse: I live far away, how will I know what’s going on? How will I fall asleep if I can’t read twitter before bed (my biggest vice by the way)? No, I don’t want to read a book instead. Sounds familiar?
- Social media eats up your time like a greedy, hungry worm. How often have you procrastinated doing things like laundry, going to the grocery store or filing admin because you were in social-media-shut-down-brain-mode? Social media often steals our time and joy we could have had if we had spend that time more wisely. These two and a half days went by in a blur for me: I literally cannot remember what I wore or ate for lunch or if I even ate lunch at all. I literally spent 90% of that time replying to comments, putting fires out, biting on my teeth not to take the bait when the trolls came out, managing the situation when some people did take the bait from the trolls. It was so bloody draining and I literally have nothing positive to show for those few days.
- I kept going back to see if there were new comments on the thread and what fresh horrible opinions or insults where flung at me and the members that supported me. Everytime I refreshed the app there were new comments – mostly positive in support of my views, but also plenty of those nasty ones that lingers in your brain and makes you question humanity. Refreshing over and over and over until I eventually went to bed at 2am – I was completely obsessed. It actually scared me how easily I got sucked in. So, I have thus learned that you can become obsessed, in the true sense of the word, with social media. And it is dangerous.
- Scrolling through social media is a mindless habit I think most of us have. It is often the first and last thing we do every day. For me it is purely a habit and a fear of missing out. Sadly from experience I know that a habit can only be broken if it is replaced by a new habit. I have been thinking for a while what habit I will replace it with should I decide to kick my social media habit to the curb. I still don’t know, but I do know that I will need to figure something out.
- Instead of fueling our curiosity through constructive channels to learn new things, we often feed that curiosity need by essentially becoming nosy about other people’s lives. Since it is so readily available through all the social media channels we are misguiding our curiosity. I mean, who simply scrolls by a twitter fight or Facebook scandal? No one.
- ‘The good thing about social media is it gives everyone a voice. The bad thing about social media is…it gives everyone a voice.’ – Brian Solis. I find this quote to be very true. As much as it is a good thing, it also make you realize there are people out there with very different and often incompatible views to your own. This is sadly naturally a source of conflict and can bring out the worse in people in a very public way. Eventhough I very seldom engage in online feuds myself, it is often difficult to channel and dismiss some of these views and not let it affect you. I am pretty sure most of us have encountered keyboard warriors on social media and were left feeling disheartened and disappointed in people. And to think about it: you would never have encountered these people was it not for social media.
- Lastly I have also learned that the phrase ‘in my opinion’ is used and accepted way too generously. People often use ‘it’s only my opinion’ as a cloak to excuse bad and rude behavior. It is often broadcasted on social media pages to ‘respect other’s opinion’ – but sometimes you just really can’t. Whether you will respect it or not rests on your own values and morals. So I am calling BS on ‘it’s only my opinion’. It is just not good enough to justify the things you are saying. Period.
So, that group that has been irritating you for a while? Leave it. We often tolerate toxic groups way too long due to a fear of missing out or curiosity. What you don’t realize is that it slowly infiltrates your life and become toxic before you even know it. Accept that you cannot change people and you don’t have to. Your only responsibility is to be proud of the person you are: online and offline. How do you feel about social media and groups?