Even though I was raised Catholic, and therefore heard the entire bible several times, front to back (that’s what the 3 long bits being read by church members and the priest, in between songs and the homily are, the bible, from the front to back, depending on time of year there are repetitions here and there), I am not good at remembering things.
So I then read various people on the internet (usually Facebook, but not always just there) saying “The Bible says…” x item is horrible, against the Lord’s teaching, and so on, and half the time think: Actually, that’s not what that says in the editions we read from, which one are you quoting again? or even Even if that IS what the bible you read says, what happened to the bits about Loving Your Neighbor and Judging Not? Because I know I can’t get into a debate without getting frustrated and throwing up my metaphorical hands at rhetoric and bile.
This morning, I really wanted to snarl something about false praise but couldn’t remember exactly where that was in the bible, and finally had my “no more” moment. I quietly unfriended several people. I didn’t tell them why, and if they even notice, I’m not sure they’ll bother attempting to friend me back. If they do, I’ll tell them then that I’m sorry, but I am not willing to see them spreading horrible evil bullying thoughts on my wall, and the only way I can control what I see is to not follow them or allow them to follow me. They get to say those things, because of Freedom of Speech. But I don’t have to listen.
So, I’m a coward. I didn’t tell them why. I just walked away. I am not up to having that fight with them right now. Part of me is bracing myself for telling them later, but not so hard because honestly? I don’t think they’ll notice I’m gone. I could be wrong. Two of them were people I was close friends with from age 5 through 17. We’re really not friends now, though. We’re internet acquaintances who keep in touch via Facebook.
Toward the end of the year, I started avoiding the internet at various times during the week.
Not all of it. I’d still read the comics I had bookmarked, maybe even pick up a new one of a friend recommended it to me directly. I’d read WordPress semi-regularly, because at least one of the people I follow does a weekly link collection where I know I’ll see good articles. (You should read his Friday Links. Font Folly has good thoughts on other things as well.) I might even load Slate for my guilty pleasure fix of Dear Prudence.
Social media though… Social media I got to avoiding because there was a lot going on for people to be angry about. To yell at each other, but not actually listen about.
Facebook is the hardest for me. It’s often the loudest, the rudest, and the cruelest. The internet adage of “Don’t Read the Comments” was originally about news articles, or perhaps reddit or YouTube, but boy is it true for Facebook. Hitting each others’ hot buttons seems impossibly easy there. People post articles they know are slanted and then get frustrated when people disagree with the slant. Sometimes, it’s an exercise in not talking, viewing Facebook.
Twitter can be easier, and perhaps it is due to who I follow and allow in my timeline, but even it can become an unbearably loud echo chamber of RTs and MTs and arguments.
Tumblr is theoretically a blogging site, except when it isn’t, and resembles something closer to Pinterest, Imgur or a meme-sharing site. Oddly, I’ve found that it has a more balanced level of social discussion vs flame-war. Both exist, but at least discussion occurs.
I don’t look at LiveJournal or DreamWidth lately, very much at all. LiveJournal doesn’t allow me to easily view backwards any longer, so it is more complicated to use, and only a few people I read regularly actually drifted to DW. Mostly, writers seemed to stay in both places and use them to echo to other publishing sites.
What’s interesting to me, is when I see other people, sometimes famous people, frustrated with the same things. Twitter is almost designed to be cruel. You have to speak in very short pithy sentences and the potential for assuming the worst would theoretically be very high. And yet… that’s not where cruelty seems the worst (unless of course you get attacked and doxxed). In general, Twitter users seem to go out of their way to be as clear as possible. Facebook seems to be the worst, where people often have their “real names” and often “real faces”. I’m not sure what that says about the user base, or my experience with it. I think in some cases, or I hope, that it’s my experience. Unfortunately, a lot of my family and acquaintances that I follow on Facebook are not as open-minded as I would like. They don’t like trying to consider another side to an argument. They have their side and strongly ascribe to black and white thinking. I feel defeated by the brick walls and I’m ashamed to admit I don’t push back as often as I should when I disagree.
I see WordPress as a straight blogging site. A place to write small personal essays, or poetry, or words. I know some people use it for photography (I follow a few photographers with beautiful images), but I use Tumblr more that way.
I’m not sure there’s an answer. I know I’m not the first to feel spread thin with social media and blogging and the internet, or to feel the emotional outrage burn out from news sites about the horrors in the world. In some ways though, I think that acknowledging it helps makes us feel the same, equal, and to relate to each other despite our differences. So putting my thoughts out there is something I’m going to continue to try to do.