I’ve Had Enough
It might be time to admit the experiment has failed.
Almost fourteen years ago my fellow graduating high school seniors discovered a way to stay connected as we went our separate ways and left for college: TheFacebook.com. It was cooler than MySpace because your computer wouldn’t crash when you visited the page of that one friend (who was definitely not me) that loaded their personal propaganda with numerous flashy gifs and Windows Media streams. It was also exclusive to college students with a school email. My Facebook ID was in the 300,000 range which I thought made me some kind of special when the number of users was in the billions.
In the years that followed I was able to reconnect with cousins that had grown and spread across the world. I found a bunch of my friends from Texas that I had grown up with but had left behind years earlier. As people came and went in and out of my life I could add them on Facebook and still feel like I was still in their lives to some small degree.
Then the 2016 election came along and sparked fury and division on a never-before-seen, massive scale. Sure, during Obama’s years there was a significant amount of bashing on either end of the political spectrum, but it wasn’t terribly significant, especially compared to these last two years.
I’ve found myself judging people’s hearts and intentions to an ever increasing degree. I could read a post and near instantly determine which cable news network was their favorite. I knew which topics to avoid whenever I ran into someone out in the real world, assuming I would even approach them at all.
Yet, oddly enough, any time I would encounter another human being out from behind our digital facades, our conversations were much more civil, tame, and strangely kind. It’s almost as if our online personas were preaching from our soap boxes while our fleshy personas were much more content to walk on by and live our lives.
Therein lies the rub, doesn’t it?
Online we can say whatever is on our minds and know that at least some number of our “friends” will have our back. In normal social situations, we rarely have our entire army of like-minded individuals ready to back us up and empower us to speak unkind words towards the ones in front of us.
Instead, we have to read the body language of the others involved in the conversation.
We have to listen and dialog back and forth.
We see on a face when our words cut to the core of a person.
I think that is something that no form of social media will ever be able to replace (aside from group video chats or holograms).
I’m realizing more and more that plain text is vastly insufficient to convey our true feelings on just about any subject.
Tone is lost.
Body language is completely absent.
There’s no room to react and adjust to your listeners.
I have a hard time believing human beings are capable of maintaining so many relationships any deeper than a surface level as we attempt to on our digital social platforms.
For this reason and a number of others, I have decided to take an indefinite hiatus from most, if not all, social media. I will instead attempt to focus that same energy towards maintaining actual, real life relationships on a more personal level.
If you have any questions and wish to discuss this or anything else with me, you’ll have to send a direct message, text, or, God forbid, a phone call.