November 04, 2015

Rebel Rule Breaker: On Being Anti-Social in a Social-Media World

I'm torn about social media. (Apparently, there is a battle for who came up with this term first. But it dates to the 90s.) Because for me, writing is lonely. When I was younger, I'd write and then go to a bar. Or write and then meet up with a friend at a favorite coffee shop. I needed to beat down the solitude with human interactions. Even if I didn't talk to anyone at a bar, I'd embrace the hustle of bodies surrounding me. (And somehow that sounds like the start of an orgy story, doesn't it?)

Social media fulfills a part for me. I can talk to people in Canada, the UK, Italy, Cleveland, elsewhere... from my office. That makes me swoon. It's like the future. I love that I can be up at midnight, and I can banter with someone else who is up thousands of miles away. Yet I despise the cruel interactions. I don't want to play those games. I refuse. And I know that makes me sound older than, well, a rotary phone.

But here's what I was thinking. If the term "social media" was coined only two decades ago, if every time you turn around there's a new platform, then we are currently in a period of major transition. Think about it.

We're pioneers. We're explorers. We can create whatever we want. We can make this work for us.

Twenty years ago, you'd never have eavesdropped on another group of people, then rudely butt into their conversation with your own loud, aggressive, differing opinion. (Can you imagine?) You wouldn't have stormed up to someone you'd never met and said, "You're fat." Or "You're a fucking moron for voting the way you did." Or anything like that. Probably, most people wouldn't do that now. In person. But with social media, this type of thing happens all the time. A stranger can write to me and say, "I am disappointment in your blog." (Somehow typos like that thrill me.) Someone I will never meet can say things that are untrue about me—and then 20,000 people can read those things in a minute.

It's surreal.

What I want to do isn't just "make peace" or "play nice." I want to wrap my head around the fact that we can actually create the online world we'd like to live in. The virtual space that makes sense to us. Mine is kinky. There is no doubt. I can't help myself. I will talk about boot-licking. I will write about voyeurism. But I need the other part—the human part—the compassionate part. The part where people don't sharpen their claws on you simply because they can.

I'm no Lewis & Clark or Neil Armstrong. I'm not walking on the moon or discovering a route to the Pacific. I know that. But every day I will take that small step and hope, ultimately, for a giant leap.


P.S. How will I do this? I will drop notes to writers I admire and tell them how their words moved me. I will concentrate on the positive and sidestep the negative. I will check myself to see what my bias is. I will be a work in progress.


t'Sade said...

I love writing to authors. Yeah, most of them are just ASSTR, but I know how much joy an email out of the blue feels. Not to mention, going years without anything is hard on the psyche. Sounds like you are doing the right thing.

Dana Davis said...

I couldn't agree more! I worry about the kind of children we are raising that only learn to communicate via technology. Even in the age of cell phones they rarely talk on them. They text. The art of communication lost, the lines of right and wrong blurred. I wholly agree that no matter the interaction rude is rude and you should know better.

I support your ideal of social media and will do my part, as well as teach my kids to look someone in the eye when you are speaking. And if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Most people know the negative already. It is positive things that should spread like wildfire, building people up and not trying to knock them down.

Miz Angell said...

I love social media. I hate the sense of entitlement it brings to everyone. There's a hard, fast rule I try to live by: Just because you can (do, say), doesn't mean you should. There's just way too much negativity in this world and too many people willing to broadcast it. Any way I can help combat that is a win.