I’ve never been one for large communities of people. Small groups of social gatherings are fine, and cherished times for me. Larger groups always seem daunting, even overwhelming at times. Everything happens so quickly, it’s hard to appreciate the moments as they stand.
Enter Social Media, which invites you and the rest of the world to keep in touch with just about everyone you ever met. Sounds like a great idea, until you have a few hundred people all telling you what they made for dinner, what relationship drama they are having, money troubles, and generally sharing more information online than one would have found in a phone conversation, or perhaps even during a chat over coffee. It’s pervasive, and it’s somehow become the common norm that if something is put ‘out there’ and you missed it, you’re inconsiderate for not knowing about it.
Frankly, I don’t really want to know about an argument that my elementary school friend had with their significant other of three weeks. I don’t really care that my high school buddy that I haven’t actually spoken to, with words from my mouth, thinks that the series finale was ‘the worst’ and they could write one better. I’m frankly uninterested that an acquaintance I know online got pulled over for speeding 20 miles over the limit through a school zone.
Last week, I got in trouble with a college friend who had publicly announced that she was engaged (through a blurry picture of an engagement ring with obligatory rainbow refraction) through a social media outlet that not be named. She called me to tell me that she was ‘shocked, upset, and disappointed’ that I had not liked her status. Well, didn’t I just feel like a heel? Come to find out, the post was all of five hours ago. Lo and behold, I was working. I know, I’m one of those strange outcasts that isn’t glued to social media while I’m working. …Because I’m working.
It’s interesting to me that people have perception of moments as ‘NOW’ or ‘you’re late, you don’t care’. This is a culture of ‘I want my instant gratification, now!’ Social media’s only made this more prominent, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
There’s this strange phenomenon that happens on the internet. Inhibitions are lowered because one doesn’t have to actually interact with the person on the receiving end. It’s a place to escalate arguments faster, make trivial things seem more important than they are, as well as a place to air dirty laundry.
I have enough negativity in my life, without being inundated with others that have +1’d me, followed me, or become friends with me online, but really haven’t made the effort outside of the ‘net. Not to say I don’t care, or I’m callous, or I’m far removed from people. I’m really not, though it might be hard to tell this point. I just have a hard time opening up these social media sites when they are so overwhelming with the ‘little’ things, that we miss the big ones in the daily slew of what is thrown our way.
In the last week, I did something ‘fairly drastic’. I went through one of my social media outlets, and I took a good long look at everyone who was listed there, and then made the effort to sort them into the categories of ‘closeness’ that that outlet provides. My stream of information is much quieter, and in line with what I’m interested in and passionate about. I can open it up now and not quietly dread the influx of negativity that does eventually weigh on me.
This may not be for everyone, but it is certainly what I needed. It’s not a total fix, but it is certainly an improvement. For me, it’s a sanity measure, a mood shifter, and a general ‘keep your smile on’ gesture.