This morning I stood in my kitchen and scrolled through Facebook. Yes, I easily wasted 20 or 30 minutes but I tell myself that I’m catching up on what is going on in my friend’s lives, to read daily posts from my favorite websites, to see what fun posts my favorite authors have shared. For the most part its fun and games.
Until it isn’t.
I’m almost always assaulted by snarky, angry, or hurtful memes, 99% of which are political. It doesn’t matter what side they are coming from; right, left, or sideways, they always bring me down. They blame Obama for the deplorable condition of our world and country. They blame Trump for the deplorable condition of our world and country. The Democrats point fingers at Republicans. The Republicans mock the Democrats. Christian’s blame everyone else for the lack of morals and resulting depravity in our country. Everyone else blames Christian’s for the lack of morals and resulting depravity in our country. Christians blame Christians for whatever trouble the church finds itself in. Everything is someone else’s fault and we’re all going to hell in a hand basket.
Some might suggest that the answer is to turn off Facebook and delete the app from my phone. However, I feel that removing oneself completely from the process isn’t the answer. I suggest being a better online citizen.
All those political memes and posts…turn them off. Simple as that. I’ll give Facebook credit where credit is due; they make it easy to hide unwanted information. Those three little dots at the top of a post: if you click on them several options will pop up one of which being “see less of posts like this” (or something to that effect). Do that often enough and Facebook will start to learn your habits, trends, likes and dislikes.
By why hide posts and memes? Why not stay informed? You may ask. I’ll tell you why. Because the individuals and groups behind the creation of those posts and memes and the bots that spread them around the internet do not, I repeat, do not have your best interest at heart. They were created to manipulate us and have been doing an excellent job. They twist and deform social media away from the intention of allowing friends and acquaintances to stay connected in a friendly way.
Social media should be about cute cat videos, adorable babies, first day of school pictures, and kids in Halloween costumes. Instead it has become a place to air our dirty laundry, grievances, and unpopular opinions. It has become a place where we learn things about each other that we didn’t necessarily want to know and now we don’t know what to do with the information.
Sometimes I wish we could go back to the pre-social media days. Days when ignorance was bliss, when we got our news from three networks and the daily paper, when truth was actually truth instead of being spun to believe what we want.
Alas, we cannot go back. Instead we have to move forward and each make a decision about what type of online citizen we choose to be. I am only a tiny drop in this vast bucket of online humanity and my actions may make no difference at all. But they will make a difference to my own well being and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.