Social Media: The Modern Contagion

My thoughts on the modern wonder of social media.

I once had the great displeasure of inhabiting a home which after a terrible summer flood, became intruded upon by cockroaches. It was not that mine was a dirty home, or that it was in disrepair, and I cannot even say for sure that the flood was the cause of their appearance, but it was not until after the basement had flooded that they had found way into my home.  You know that they say if one sees even one cockroach, there are a hundred more that are not seen. I despise spiders nearly as much as I despise the roach, but I have been known on occasion to let the spider go on its way as opposed to crushing it outright even though they have terrified me my entire life. However, I cannot say the same for the ill-fated and terribly hated roach, unfortunately. It doesn’t matter if the roach was on the floor, the wall, or the countertop, if a can of Raid was not handy, a shoe would most certainly do and the loathed creature would be obliterated.

I find today, in a world so full of antipathy, patronized by modern technology, and inundated by social media, that we as a society often treat others as we would treat the roach. Heaven forbid that someone should post a meme, share an article, or make a tweet with which we as an individual do not agree! We despise those things that are inherently different than us, be it a person’s changed looks, education (or lack thereof), politics, or religion. If such a thing does not ring true with our own views and beliefs, we are like the lion, ready to give chase and pounce the moment the opportunity presents itself. We have moved to opposite ends of the earth from many of those with whom we were brought up, yet through the avenues of social media have had the pleasure to keep up to date on all their latest doings. Nevertheless, if they dare publish something contrary to our own system of dysfunctional “social” interaction, we are quick to argue, and even quicker to take offense.

We live in a world where our entire lives can be seen at the press of a button. We exhibit pictures of ourselves, our lives, our children, our likes and our dislikes, and we are all quick to snap a judgment at the revelations made by others. If someone has gained weight and grown bald, we revel in it. If they have lost weight and grown handsomer, we despise them for it. I must wonder if the instances in which we celebrate another’s accomplishment we are being sincere, if but only for a brief moment, or if it is a matter of making ourselves to look like the better person by spewing words of false kindness and encouragement?

However, most frequently, it is with comments of derision, contempt, and judgment that we respond to others with the vilest of toxins that our keyboards are capable of fabricating, and it is oftentimes these outbursts of articulation that do the most harm, far more than the spoken word would ever be capable of doing. For if a person were to say something hurtful to us, we might at some point in time be able to forgive them that because it was to us which it was said, but when something of the kind occurs on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, their words have been displayed before the entire world, immemorial for generations to come and our shame is irrevocable. If we think it silly that they become offended at our viewpoints, we often fail to recognize our own contempt for theirs. And as we battle it out on the social media warfront, we seek compatriots who will support our own deluded ideas, each side growing stronger with each post and the arguments becoming more heated, and offences growing more deep.

At times, we grow weary of the competition and the battle doesn’t seem worth fighting any longer or at least for the time being. Politics grow old, religion, we realize, is impossible to dispute and a victor to be pronounced, insulting another’s looks or life choices becomes tiresome, and we lose interest. Old social media outlets are replaced with newer and more novel ones and we recoil at the idea of opening up yet another new account, not knowing whether the newer will be better and phase out the old or if it is simply a waste of time. We know not whether we grow tired of the outlet or tired of those things being put out upon it. We eventually fail to differentiate between the people and people’s opinions, at which point we have one of two choices. We can either take a hiatus, which I see happening more and more frequently, or we go for the more permanent solution, the unfriend button.

Sometimes we choose to do one, sometimes another, and at yet other times we choose to do both, but we cannot stay away very long due to the addictive nature of these modern modes of communication. Yes, we may take our time coming back to our social media sites, but before long, the debate is on and tempers are running hot; once again, we remember what it was we so loathed that made us leave to begin with! I once thought that Myspace and Facebook were the best sites created since the invention of the internet. They were like the discovery of a new star in the cosmos! I could find and catch up with old friends and make new alike. I didn’t have to make 20 phone calls in a day to tell people the big news or share the excitement of whatever was happening at that particular point it time. It was all no harder than a few strokes of the keys and swift press of the enter button.

However, the older I grow, the more wearisome it all becomes. As much as I know I truly find enjoyment in the successes of a few close friends, others’ at times I find myself sneering at because they have accomplished more than I, or so, what I must claim can only be temporary lapses of sanity, I think for a short while. However, there are times when the bickering, name calling, judgment placing, ill-spelled and grammatically incorrect comments of so many people in today’s modern world leave me emotionally drained from the realization that this is no longer the nostalgic reality of my youth. The world grows more and more shattered as each day passes. People grow more apathetic and less empathetic. Voices scream to be heard in whatever outlet they can find and the screaming on social media is often the loudest of all. Recognizing that society, in so many ways is going to hell faster than Obamacare is falling apart, how can I not despise social media that so readily spreads animosity like a contagion, just as I despised the house inundated with roaches? In reality, I do, and I grow weary of the conflict.



The End

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