OK, so I’m not really naked on the internet. But a lot of people are. Whether naked comes literally when an ex posts intimate pictures after your breakup, or figuratively, when every personal life detail and opinion is expressed in a social medium. Which brings me to the crux of the issue: they are SOCIAL media, not vent-like-a-fishwife-media, so why don’t more people get it?
I look at social media as a metaphoric cocktail party. Would you walk in naked? Would you call the host names? Show up hammered? Talk politics and religion with no regard to anybody else’s feelings? Tell everybody you meet at the party that your husband cheats on you, your daughter is a meth-head, your son is in prison, and your trusty pit-bull just ate the neighbors cat? No, you wouldn’t and neither would I. But it grinds me to see all that, on Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., etc.
I’m not quite sure when it became vogue to disregard another’s feelings, beliefs or heartfelt positions just because we have a keyboard and screen in front of us. Why it seems we forget the manners we have been taught since childhood when online. Or when it became OK to yell, taunt, curse at, and generally have no compassion or tolerance for beliefs different than our own. What has happened to “we agree to disagree” or “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing?”
I read the response of a high school friend who was on a rant about whether or not people who apply/qualify/accept government assistance should be drug tested. Because some of the people involved in the thread had different opinions than hers, she referred to these people as “self-righteous assholes” and a few other choice pearls. She didn’t know all the people in the thread, so would she walk into a cocktail party where she knew very few people and act like that? Probably not. I hope not – I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a spirited debate, a passionate exchange of thoughts and ideas that allows us to look at what we hold dear, and maybe question its validity. Without the exchange of differing positions, how would we ever learn to see a something in a new and unique way….all through the eyes of another. And yes, it can all be done on social media platforms, but calling names and berating others just makes you look like a horse’s patoot. (My Nana’s phrase!)
Don’t get me wrong about this either: I don’t think people need to use a social medium for family fights, custody battles, breakup drama, or passive aggressive bombs in a public forum. It is far too easy to to do permanent damage to relationships when the poison pen is as immediate as a few click of the keyboard. Have I ever done any hate posting? Nope. Would I have liked to on a number of occasions? You bet. But I’m better than that, and I have to believe that most of us are better than that….but our impulse control is at times lacking.
I’m only naked on the internet when I write. You have the choice to read what I write or not; just like I have the choice to read all the foul diatribe on social media and get sucked in, or not. I choose not. It’s inappropriate, offensive, and completely lacking in social skills most of us have been taught. I will always stand up for for somebody being barraged online with bigotry, sexism, or hatred, but it will be without name calling and without hitting below the belt.
I’d love to invite everybody using social media to the cocktail party. Mind your manners, be polite to the host, listen with an open mind, challenge positions with respect, keep your family business family business, keep your clothes on, and no name calling. I’ll be there, too, but you’ll only see me naked when I write.