Warning – some considerable profanity follows…
Sometimes you just want to give the fuck up.
I hate social media for some things. I love social media for some things.
I love it because I get to stay in touch with friends and family and rediscover the people I’d lost my connection with over the years. I get to see their families, their kids, and grand kids. I get to know what’s important to them, what they like to do, where they like to go, and what they like to eat. I get to see their pets’ antics (I see you Bad Cat). I get to be part of their lives in a weird, digital sort of way that seems even dearer to me during this fucking pandemic. We get to trade stories, jokes, barbs (good-natured ones), sorrows, pain, grief, luck, misfortune, birthdays, special events, and even just see that each other is still kickin’ it here on earth… or maybe that they’ve passed and all their friends and loved ones miss them so much. I get to learn new things, find new inspiration, and share new (to me) thoughts.
I hate it because it can bring out the worst in many people everyone. Its asynchronous nature allows for tempers to ratchet up in ways that might not happen if we were face-to-face and observing social niceties. Nastiness abounds, especially on Facebook and Twitter. The ability to quickly mouth-off and flee, only to come back later, see the havoc left behind your vitriol, and continue the tit-for-tat escalation that continues until one of you blocks the other… and there’s no coming back from that, for the most part. You’ve cut someone out of your life or been cut out. And maybe that’s no big thing to you, but then it might be*. There seems to be little forgiveness and no reconciliation after social media divorce.
And then there are the algorithms that assure that your point of view is reinforced exponentially – oh, you lean a particular direction? You are going to see all the terrible (usually questionable) news and posts about those who think differently than you do.
And then there’s all the disinformation… the weird-ass conspiracy-theory, troll-feed, click-bait, what-the-fuck, garbage-as-news shit that I scroll past every day. Scary things that I recognize as trash, but that others seem to take as gospel truth… and what scares me more is knowing that there have to be things that I get fooled by, too.
I remember when I had such hope for this new thing – the internet. I naively thought that with the democratization of information that was becoming possible, that we would share all the great and good with each other and make the world a better place, for everyone.
Silly me. Stupid me.
It simply breaks my heart. It makes me worry. A lot.
There is so much blame and wounding going on that most of the time I want to just say fuck it… y’all can just go on poisoning each other all you want, I’m outta here.
But then… but then…
I come back to the idea that if no one speaks civilly, no civil language exists. If no one acts (writes) with compassion, no compassion exists. If no one seeks to find truth, no truth exists. I’m not saying that I’m any kind of leader or teacher on this, just that if I don’t do my work on it, there’s one less person doing the work. If I withdraw and pretend it doesn’t exist, then I’m lying to myself (something that has become really important to me not to do) and in an offhand way, to others too. And if I ignore this stuff, I’m letting myself and others down in a time when we all need to support and help each other.
But I’m left with the question – how do I help cultivate a civil society, to invoke civil discourse, to make the world a bit better using the tools at hand? How do I figure out how to till at these windmills and make any kind of actual progress?
So, I return to the whirlwind and sow some tiny seeds of compassion, of (what seems to me to be) clear thinking, of art and beauty and kindness and hope. And maybe delusion, likely delusion. But I’m working to cross that divide and see my delusions for what they are. I try to write meaningful things, funny things, snarky things (cause that’s the way I like to roll – but never mean ones). I want to make people laugh and see the amazing beauty of the world because I hope that the joy and beauty helps them stop for a moment, helps them take the calming breath, helps them forgive (but not forget) themselves for all their fuck ups, and grant others the space to forgive themselves. I want to encourage respectful carefulness with each other. We need to care about each other so much, all of us, to care for all of us.
All of this, without losing faith…
Some days I still want to say fuck it, you fucking sick fucks.
* I fully realize that cutting some people out of your life is necessary for your well-being… no judging by me if you have done that or need to do that… I unfollow folks when it is necessary. And I block them when that’s not enough.