Honestly, I don’t know what would happen if I quit Facebook for a week because since I got my account in 2008, I think I have checked into it at least once a day, every day, for eight years. I even was on Facebook in the delivery room… twice. How sad is that?!
What the hell did I do before social media? I mean, I was alive. I went to college right as Myspace (God have I aged myself there) was taking off. Back in ancient 2003, Myspace was filled with my friends partying, pretty pictures of pretty places, and special pages that you could make all your own (remember customizing your Myspace page? Good times…. Also, my mouse cursor had a rainbow trail after it so I beat you.) Yes, early social media was just that, an online photo album.
Here’s the thing though, social media has changed.
Do I wish for the good ol’ days of drunken beer stand pics and smiling friends? No, I don’t. My feed reflects who I am today, for better or worse, and who my friends are. I love seeing those same smiling faces of people who I would go party with now surrounded by their beautiful families. I still love pretty travel pictures, and funny memes always make my day. I enjoy a good news story. I like watching my friends build businesses and succeed in work. Hell, as long as the picture is taken well, I love the food pics. Keep them coming! I would venture to say most would feel the same way.
But in that acceptance, I also offer a request. Social media has become a conduit for our immediate emotional responses. In the aftermath of this election you can see this now more than ever. The problem is our immediate emotional responses are not born out of logic. They are usually born out of heady emotions like rage, frustration, fear, resentment. Sometimes they are born out of love and compassion, but too often these honorable emotions are overwhelmed with negative ones. The problem with those emotional outbursts is they serve no true purpose. Not that anyone changes their minds based on a political rant or mocking meme, but I can promise you, calling them an ignorant racist will not make them any more interested in hearing your side. It’s easy to hide behind your computer screen and scream angry curses into the cyber sky, but you only hurt yourself and piss everyone else off.
I have a theory as to why this didn’t happen as much in 2003; smart phones didn’t exist. To post on any social media site, you needed to log onto your computer. Even that 2-5-minute process your rage would subside, even just a little (unless you used dial-up AOL, in which case your rage would only increase). Those few precious moments avoided me from a lot of embarrassment back in college. Maybe that picture really didn’t belong on a social media site that would follow me around for the rest of my days… Thank goodness for my old Nokia. It probably saved college for me.
Of course, smartphones are integrated into our lives at this point and won’t be going away. So instead, we all need to make a concentrated effort to check ourselves. As the days and weeks continue, consider this request: Wait until you are calm and your emotions collected before you post online. Consider the people who have posted out of emotion rather than logic. Their stories have consequences. Even liking or commenting on those emotional posts on another’s page have consequences. One stupid post or comment can literally ruin your life. You can lose friends, lose respect, even lose your job. So if you see something that pisses you off, or hear something that makes you angry, don’t go online to vent your anger. Do something else for a half hour, then come back with a clear head and think of a respectable way to get your point across. Not only will it make you look better, but others will be more likely to listen. And if there is no respectable way to say what you want, you simply shouldn’t say it. Remember, no post, picture, tweet, or whatever else you can do online is worth your respect. It’s just not.
And after that, I really need a good wine meme.
So yeah, I never quit Facebook after all.