It has been a long time since I have written a blog post here on my own domain. A month or two ago, a memory on Facebook prompted me to revisit one of the posts I had made regarding my brother-in-law Michael Lovato who passed away almost 7 years ago. I read what I had posted back then and went on to read several more of my posts from 2011 and maybe even before. Something glaring stuck out in my head as I was reading… I couldn’t believe how I wrote and even wondered if I could still write even close to the same way I did back then.

In today’s world, our ramblings are relegated to quick thoughts with fewer words, far less punctuation, a lot of abbreviations, and stupid memes. And the messages are shared quickly then quickly fade into a distant memory. We find ourselves being alerted each time someone “likes” a post or sends a comment. Sometimes the “likes” come within seconds of posting, and from my own first hand knowledge and experience, we can assume many people “like” a post without actually even reading it.

People today hide behind their social media posts and post things from the safety of their own dark room, calling people names or spewing hatred — all the while knowing that they would never in their right mind actually say something like they posted to a person face-to-face. Of course, they will proudly pound their chest and say “Of course I would say that to your face,” but deep down, they know they wouldn’t. They even pretend to be or believe something they likely don’t, just to make themselves appear holier-than-thou to their “friends” and “followers”.

Social media, especially Twitter, has transformed over the years from a place where you could quickly get first-hand accounts of current happenings, often beating the “news”, to a place where people merely hate on each other and spew incoherent, hateful, and often just plain wrong information. I can’t take it anymore… I really can’t. Yet, I do. The addiction to it keeps bringing me back to checking what people are saying to each other. The founders of social media own and control us.

I honestly fear the world my kids are growing up in. Will they ever learn to truly communicate and respect people? Can they look someone in the eye and have a true conversation with them?
Will their self esteem be grown or shattered by how many “likes” they get, how quickly they get them, or by the demeaning comments left by some coward or stranger who is merely hiding behind their keyboard? I see it already with my daughter and her Music.ly app — often commenting on how popular she is because three people “liked” her video.

I truly believe that social media is absolutely the worst “invention” of my lifetime. For awhile, I thought it was merely a fad. I remember way back when I created my Facebook account. I was sitting in a conference room at work and created it solely so I could see something my favorite band, The Dave Matthews Band, had posted. My love of music and DMB started my journey on what I now deem to be one of the most evil and destructive platforms ever. I even quit Facebook a few years ago, for nearly a year. I unfriended everyone except my immediate family on New Year’s Eve. I got my life back, for almost a year. Then, I re-entered the realm due to my new job which relied almost exclusively on Facebook, fans, “friends”, and followers. I added back nearly anyone I had been “friends” with before, though I tried to use the guidance of only adding people if they were someone I would invite into my home. But then, the urge to add anyone who friend-requested me or that I even met randomly one time took over, and bam — my “friend” list grew and grew.

Daily, I look through the Facebook-selected posts from my friends and see all of the wonderful things they are up to. Sometimes I see the just flat stupid or mean things they say. Sometimes I say mean things or stupid things.  This is not who I want to be.  But it doesn’t end here.  This week, we celebrated the 4th of July, and has become a tradition of sorts, some neighbors and my family tend to shoot off some fireworks around my house.  This year, though I did not purchase a single firework, my neighbors did.  And we had a few small things left over from years past.  We shot off a few parachutes, smoke bombs and a few small spinner things in our cul-de-sac.  Low and behold, the police showed up and informed us it was illegal to do anything in Overland Park except snappers.  Yes, even smoke bombs are illegal because a spark emits.  The police officer was clearly annoyed with his job that day and as I informed him “wow, that is lame” he responded, “yes, yes it is…”.  He then proceeded to hand back the fireworks he picked-up and told us to put them in a bag and head outside of town to shoot them off.  He didn’t fine or even threaten a fine to us — just encouraged us to go enjoy them outside of town.  However, the next day I woke to find the following “social media” like post on our community neighborhood portal:

 

Now, let’s dissect the above thread, shall we?  The original post is from a neighbor who lives about 4 or 5 houses away from me.  I can only presume she wasn’t talking about us, but maybe she was.  The reason I assume she isn’t referring to us is because not a single item we shot-off in our cul-de-sac could have made it down the hill to her house.  Plus, she’s posting about 4 or 5 hours after we shot them off.  But that isn’t even the point.  The point is this lady, hiding behind her keyboard, refers to her neighbors as “aholes”.  Please note I have lived here for 6 years now and not once met this lady — I wouldn’t know her if she came up to me.  I only even know the name and house because of the parties her high school daughter used to throw in our neighborhood when mom and dad were out-of-town (side note:  police showed up on at least one occasion — could that be the destruction of her house she referred to?).  Anyway, let’s move onto the next point.  Nobody replied to her message for a while and she didn’t get instant gratification from her post, so she added onto it 4 minutes later — showing the “world” how much better she is than the rest.

Then, at 9:03 am the next day, she finally gets a bite.  Kathy joins the conversation and gives Susan the gratification she so sought by agreeing and posting that she saw (by saw I think she meant called) the cops who had stopped by our house.  How did she see this when she lives a few streets away?  Easy!  She was hiding behind a tree by our neighbors watching!  Anyway, nobody jumped in to give Kathy the instant gratification she needed so she commented later to her comment about how these “ahole” neighbors were teaching their kids to ignore laws they don’t like.  Anyway, I personally view this as a perfect example of people hiding behind their keyboards and communicating in extremely inappropriate ways — something they wouldn’t be doing in a non “Social Media” world.  Susan would get mad props from me had she came over to my house and called me an “ahole” but she didn’t.

My last commentary on the dummification of America by social media is to explain exactly what I meant by it in the first place.  People read the spewed hatred and misinformation like it is gospel.  Then they believe it and share it, and so do their “friends”.  Some of it might be true (perhaps even me being an ahole) but a lot of it is not.  But until people talk face-to-face and quit hiding behind their screen names and screens, we will continue to digress into an anti-social network of Americans who hate each other and pretend to be who they are not.  Sadly, I think we’re there.

Until next time….

-RE

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