Social Media Mentality

March 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Honestly I've never seen anything like it. We all have an opinion, usually based on past experience and personal knowledge of some kind. But once we are online, it seems we all think we have to opine whether or not it is our business. I'm really no different, however I try to keep more of a neutral tone and avoid conflict. But man do some people get huffy when responding, and responding again...and once again responding with yet another fragment of undisputed evidence to support their side of the cause. Many times, the responses drift so far off the original post you can't tell what the issue was to begin with. 

I've unintentionally started posts like this only to have them veer off the course. I hate to have my name attached to such a heated debate online. I quickly remove it before it gets too harsh. I'm kind of a wimp like that. A couple of groups I belong to on one popular network seem to have trouble with this. I would hate to be the moderator because it is hard to keep up. One simple photo can lend itself to a 300 response long dogfight between intense personalities duking it out for the "internet arm chair expert of the year crown". Why? Mostly because it's not face to face. We have a lot more guts when we don't have to face our opponent. It's easy to sling mud online. And...because we think we have to post everything.

Years ago, no one had to know if you saw a mom spank her child in the grocery store for acting up, or that a man dressed up in a woman's hooker outfit and walked into Wal-mart. You and you alone made the choice to keep walking or to do something about it if you did not agree. You maybe told one friend later. Now people not only mention it on social media, they've uploaded a sneaky pic or video of it to multiple sites and ask the opinion of everyone in their address book. Out come the experts, with commentary, personal stories, threats, articles found on the internet (some with no backing of any kind or scientific reference). The more anonymous, the worse it gets. Or perhaps an entire webpage is designed to make fun or or judge those who fit the profile you are choosing to shame or make fun of.

So when does it go from sharing an opinion, to educating the ignorant to judging others publicly? I can tell you that it happens very quickly. First, no one can perceive your tone via text or typed communication, which lends itself to arguing and defensiveness. Second, with automatic updates, we have this in front of us on a real time basis. One beep and you back in the conversation feeling like the last poster just called you out, or discredited your sound advice and it's off again. The minute you go back to doing dishes or to another webpage..."beep" another person has offered their expert opinion, or urged the original poster to notify the authorities or some damn thing.

So what about it? What can one person do? For starters, avoid sharing your opinion if it looks shady. Scroll on. You can tell sometimes just by the subject matter that it brings the crazies out of their bunkers.  If you do opine...quickly remove your comments if it starts to get testy. Don't want your name attached to that mess. If it's one of those people on your friends list who does this kind of thing all the time, you can unfollow them or totally block them if needed depending on which social media site you use. Sometimes I find when looking back that nothing this person has said in the past 6 months has made me smile or enhanced my life one bit...I just simply do not need to see it. Avoid it altogether. Now if you think you have some real advice for someone in who's life you'd like to make a difference...maybe you could send a private email, or message that no one else has to see to share your opinion, or offer advice. It's between you and "your friend" as it should be.  Lastly, do you have to take the bait? Really, what is this person saying? Do they want advice, or simply to start some drama. Like those vague and loaded comments that lead the readers on a bread crumb trail to nowhere. Some people are looking for attention with " well it's happened again...don't ever ask me for a favor again!" or "I guess no one cares about me...I need a hug". So needy and shallow. Don't respond publicly to this stuff. It really cheapens the true meaning anyway, and the internet is not the place to hang your laundry. Remember...that person you spend two weeks trying to make us all hate right now may be simply having a bad week, and will be back in your arms/bed later and we'll all have to read your posts about how wonderful he/she is. Bleh! On the internet, less is more.


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