Antisocial media on a hazy morning…

Standard

Hey.

…sorry. That was kind of a rude salutation, wasn’t it? I mean, it’s not your fault I’m all worked up and I really shouldn’t take it out on you. Let’s try that greeting again.

Mornin’ all! How are you on this bright sunshiny morning?

…this searingly, scorchingly bright humid morning that’s already making my back sweat and has absolutely melted my miserable cat into a fur heap on the floor…

*sigh* Guess the peppy won’t happen today.

It’s just…see…I went on Facebook before I had my coffee. *hangs my head in shame*

Stop looking at me like that! I know it’s my own damn fault, okay? Your condescension does me no good at this point. Where were you a half hour ago BEFORE I had the brilliant idea to click that icon with zero caffeine in my system?

Have you ever looked at something on of your “friends” post and thought, “Wow, I USED to think you were smart…”?

And then of COURSE you feel mean, because everyone has moments of derp, and everyone has at least a few ideas you won’t agree with. That doesn’t actually make them stupid, or even mean you shouldn’t be friends.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw your friend at school? Ah, good times. Sometimes you’d see them on the weekend or a vacation, sometimes you’d sleep over or have them to your house. You’d get a visit, then go your separate ways. I kind of miss that.

Now, you see a friend online and they’ve posted a pic of a wild party they were at that includes too much nudity and a bra-wearing donkey. Or worse…they dressed up their cat. In a bonnet. WITH RIBBONS.

*…and now any of my FB friends reading this are frantically scanning through my contact list to try and figure out which sick bastard actually dresses up their poor cat. It was just an example of depravity, not really a specific photo. But we’ll wait while you look anyway. … … …back? Okay, let’s continue…*

Back in the day, people took care to be part of the group. They learned as children the rules that guide social interactions in a gathering with others. They learned what to say, what not to say, what to do and what types of crazy to keep to themselves. Didn’t agree with something they said? Face-to-face, they got the visual cues of your discomfort and changed the subject, as you did when the situation was reversed, and you both moved on to happier thoughts and fun. They could see you purse your lips, or frown, or roll your eyes, giving them the signal to change the topic before any damage was done. They’d move on, and then you got the opportunity to also see your friend in other situations, see the many levels of the person, not simply the opinion of offense or malcontent. Face-to-face, you could see the person as a whole. You could get to actually know them.

Online, you don’t have that option. Your only interaction point is the post.

See, when we use Facebook or other social networking sites, we’ve crippled our ability to properly interact. We’ve taken away the physical cues and clues that help make us be accepted by other people. We’re pack creatures by nature, and when we don’t actually have the pack around us, things get very confusing.

I know I’m guilty of it myself. I’ll post shit, too, you know. I’m not saying I’m exempt. I would bet a million bucks that I’ve posted things on social sites that made other people step slowly away from their computers and close their blinds, hoping I forgot where they lived. You can’t NOT step in it sometimes. Without the checks and balances of others around you, it’s damn near impossible not to piss someone off!

“But Bethie, at least this way you get to know who the person really is.”

No. I don’t learn who the person really is through a computer screen. That’s impossible. I learn who they think they are in the moment. Sure, over time you get a general sense of the individual. But could you say what they’d be like at a party? Or what they’d do when the shit really hit the fan? Or how they truly treat other people?

I had a friend who would re-post things without reading through them all the way. They’d share everything they saw, from chain emails that claimed God or a leprechaun would give you luck if you shared it with 50 people in 30 minutes, to funny cartoons, to American pride pics, and everything in between. They happened to share one that was rather lengthy, but at the end the “moral” of the story was about how races mixing was really against the laws of nature. The photo was of a racially diverse couple, and it started off talking about when they got married. Then it talked about their kids, and that’s where things really started to turn…how their kids had to deal with racism, etc, and how it was the PARENT’S fault for putting them in that situation in the first pace. Anyone who skimmed it, as my friend no doubt did, probably thought it was a post about how racism is evil, not the other way around.

Now, I knew this person in real life. I knew they weren’t like that. I knew for a fact that they had relationships with people of different ethnicities. I knew they were absolutely NOT a racist. They simply hit “share” without reading. In the spur of the moment, they clicked something they shouldn’t.

“Bethie, we ALL do this. We all post without thinking sometimes.”

Sure do!

But, if that’s our only interaction, how would I know that it was a hapless mistake? If all I know is the online person, or if I, say, reconnected with a friend I hadn’t seen in forever… I’ll look at their posts. I’ll nod my head to many, snicker and snort to some, and feel good about our online friendship. I’ll feel like this person gets me, and I get them.

And then they go and change it up. They’ll make a post that comes out of left field and everything I “knew” about them will be forced into question.

All of a sudden the brakes slam on, the mind gets boggled. It really does feel like a betrayal. “I thought I knew you. How the hell could you say that?? How could you share that pic? How could you possibly support that cause or politician or religious zealot??? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME???”

When we take the socialization out of our social interactions, everything is personal. If all we have are a few posts, then everything becomes a big deal. It must. We’ve got nothing else to judge by. We haven’t seen the person drop some change into the cup of a homeless panhandler, or make faces at a baby in line at the grocery store to get them to laugh, or offer a truly sympathetic look when something bad happens. All we have are a few words typed into a cold machine.

Now isn’t THAT a pleasant thought.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Now that I’ve spread my cheer here, I think I’ll go hack down the jungle in the back 40. Boy, those people who clear cut the rain forest have the right idea, eh? Trying to get through the trees and the bushes to reach the berries is so annoying. SO much easier when you level it all. Clear cutting FTW!!! …KIDDING…sheesh. Do you people not understand irony?I thought you knew me better by now!!?

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