My ‘Anti-Social Media’ Day

Preface: It is important to note that none of the content of this post is based on, or about the activities of the on-line support groups that I run.  I have always kept anything from those groups completely out of my blog out of courtesy to the members.

I think I could call this my ‘Anti-Social Media Day’ today.  It doesn’t happen often because I choose to use social media every day in my effort of ‘paying it forward’.  Other people have helped me get out of very dark places, and I want to pay that forward and be there to help others do the same.  And that’s what I do, until today when I have been so sickened the range of things that have thrown themselves up on my computer screen, that I have to find myself withdrawing for the sake of my own sanity.  I realise that it is slightly ironical that I use another piece of social media to tell you about this, but I do recognise that there is good with the bad.

Today I have seen women objecting to someone posting about men as victims of domestic violence.  Their objection seemed to be that it took away from women their position as domestic violence victims.  It wasn’t actually what was being said at all, but fierce battles with raging as someone tried to highlight that not just women can be victims of domestic violence.  It left me feeling ill.  Can we not acknowledge that many types of victims of all types of crime exist without having to fight for our moment in the spotlight?

Next, I was hit by a one-person attempt to fill my screen (and presumably that of all his/her friends) about how untrustworthy people are and how we should never trust anyone but ourselves.  All people are inherently bad and out to hurt us apparently.  Actually it just left me feeling sad, because s/he must have been hurt badly to feel the need to continually post such things.

Further on there was a photo of a child being physically abused, apparently in the name of sport and success.  There was so much wrong with this, not to mention why someone stand idly by and take a photograph of this?  But also what is actually being done, aside from posting swear words on social media?

I saw posts from people saying “I would never say this to the person concerned but…” and completely tearing strips off the person concerned… to everyone else on the internet.  Does this seem wrong to anyone else?  Again to me it seems wrong on so many levels.  And so I moved on…

This time to jokes and innuendos at the expense of others.  “It’s funny so it’s okay to laugh”…  even though it would be hurting someone else, let alone stigmatising them.

The final one for me was comments by someone about their parent’s sexual activities.  At that point I got up and walked away from my computer.  I really didn’t need to know that information.

Maybe I’m painting myself out to be some type of uptight freak.  I’m not.  But you’ll have to take my word on that as I have no one on-side right this minute to verify my non-uptight-freakish nature.  It just seems to me that this social media has become a way of avoiding real communication, even real activism.  Everything (and I mean everything) gets said in the social media arena.  We vent (I’m not sure that venting existed beyond opening a window until the rise of social media), and apparently feel better for it, but we never tackle the actual issue.  The person who has the problem doesn’t address it with the person causing the problem because hey, it was easier to just tell my 800+ friends.

If you have seen my All About Me page, you will see this image.  It’s a statement by Ellen DeGeneres of what she stands for and I used it because it pretty well summed up what I stand for too.

It doesn’t really matter to me whether these are “traditional values” or not, but honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way I want to be treated, and helping those in need is what matters to me.  If I am anything other than this, or am a sideline spectator of anything other than this, I don’t see that I am being true to myself.  And I know that if I’m not true to myself, my mental health takes a dramatic downturn.

I know the easy answer is to just look away, but I don’t even feel comfortable with that.  Because of things that have happened in my life in the past I am already pretty careful about what I subscribe to and what I allow to get onto my computer screen.  But it’s hard to rule it out totally.  I know I can choose my friends carefully but I have no control over what those friends might say or do.  We all know that this stuff creeps through, and there it is in front of us.

While I was raised in a religious environment, I don’t regard myself as religious but I still find that something I was taught as a child from The Bible keeps jumping into my mind.  It is:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent, or worthy of praise, think on these things.” (1.)

I’m no saint, and you’ll have to take my word on that again, but I believe that what we fill our minds with is what we end up expressing in our lives.  Or in other words:

Garbage in, garbage out!

If I fill my mind with the absolute rubbish I so often see posted in social media, then I can’t expect to be the person I want to be.  Even if I don’t participate in that garbage, I get tainted by it, and frankly I don’t want to anymore.  I would much rather have my mind filled with what is right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy.

What I’m not sure is how I do that while still doing the things I am committed to doing.  There is a lot in social media that is good.  I have gained richly from the connections I have made, and I know other people gain from what I do, but if I keep exposing myself to such garbage then all I succeed in doing is pulling myself down.

So what do I do?  I’m not sure.  I wonder whether others struggle with the same things?  How do you be who you want to be without getting tainted?  I know it is possible.  After all medical people can go into disease invested regions and not become diseased themselves, but how does that translate to social media?  I would love to hear your thoughts…

“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”

 – Martin Luther King Jr.

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10 thoughts on “My ‘Anti-Social Media’ Day

  1. John Richardson

    I agree with you Cate. The opening line to Ann Karenina is, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I think there is a lot of truth to that observation. I think the traditional values you espouse lead to good relationships with others and “happy families” however you want to define them. A lot of what happens in the world makes you shake your head. It is sad. I also think that each of us has a limit to those kind of statements and news we can absorbe without being affected by it in a negative way. When it starts affecting your peace it’s time to walk away. If people would just be thankful for the blessings in their lives the world would be a better place for us all. I also think if more people rolled over and took a nap when they were cranky we’d all be better off.

    1. I totally agree John. The benefits of a nap and some time-out are endless when we get cranky. In reading your comment I am struck with another childhood lesson I had (which I never understood at that time) of being in the world and not of it. I just have to find the right balance so that my peace and sanity are preserved but that I might do some good.

  2. You make some great points here Cate. For me it comes down to balance. On line social media is very powerful and although relating to others online can be great, it’s important to keep touch in the real world too!
    Love your ending quote – a great reminder!

  3. What I’ve found for myself, as it relates to social media, is to be like a horse with blinders on. And this is quite difficult for me, as I tend to be quite a sensitive person and easily affected by things I see/read. Since I do quite a bit of blogging (and yes I do have to admit, some of my venting is for “venting” purposes and probably doesn’t benefit anyone other than myself – sorry about that!), as well as blog reading, the approach that I’ve had to take is- as it relates to all social media: become highly attuned to what feels helpful and what doesn’t. If it doesn’t, I have taught myself to keep moving without reading, no matter how tempting or shocking the content is. As it relates to blogs I follow: I read the entries I’m drawn to, and skim & delete the ones I’m not.

    I know that perhaps this sounds like a simplified system, but it’s the one that really works for me.

    Sorry it felt overwhelming to you today. I think it’s actually a good thing to take a day (or two) away every now and then.

    1. Thank you. And it doesn’t sound simplified, but rather it makes perfect sense to me and it’s something I am slowly learning to do. I admit that reading blogs is one of the hardest ones for me because I find it difficult to pass up a post sitting there in front of me waiting to be read. But I’m getting better with that. 🙂

      And venting on blogs? Hey we all do that, and that was pretty much what I was doing on this post, although I have got to the point where I have learnt something from my venting, to make it worthwhile (for me at least). 🙂

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  5. I agree with Carolyn. I know that when I start to feel angry, anxious, irritated, irate, sad and out of sorts for a day (or so…I don’t always catch it), I need to take a ‘screens’ break and give my brain a rest from so much stimulation. I don’t watch TV, go on the computer (except maybe school related if I have an assignment to do), don’t listen to the radio, stay as quiet as possible and reconnect with nature. After a day or so (or even a few hours) I am refreshed once again. Self-care and preservation…

    1. I think you’re right that self care is very important but generally it disturbs me the rubbish that comes across the social media waves. Is our society reduced to this? It makes me sad that people choose to communicate in such indirect and unhelpful ways rather than simply talking to each other.

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