I keep reading how facebook (and other social media experiences) are creating a world with less real connections. A world where people are distracted and disengaged and where forming healthy and meaningful bonds has become less common. Now, whether or not you trust the studies or believe the conclusions, I know from experience that facebook et al. has indeed made my world smaller. But not because I’m less engaged.
My world is shrinking because I keep choosing to make it smaller to avoid facebook et al. My facebook experiment started as a result of realizing the vast majority of people I know are…assholes. Frankly, I think most of us are assholes, but facebook just shoved in my face how asshole-ish so many of my “friends” are. I got sick of it. I would rather be ignorant. When I see a friend for dinner, I just want to enjoy the time with them and conversation without knowing they posted a solicitation to support “traditional marriage” or signed a petition demanding to “see that Kenyan’s birth certificate.” When it comes to acquaintances, I have decided ignorance truly is bliss.
Now, I find myself moving things to the next level. I used to love reading comments on various media sites, including my local paper. At one time, I was even pretty active on many of them having discussions and thinking my comments might actually influence others. Now, I realize once again that most people are really assholes. And, given the protection of anonymity or the distance involved with posting from behind a computer, they will say the stupidest, most hurtful shit and think nothing of it. As with the smaller circle of my friends and acquaintances, I now want to be ignorant of the asshole factor of greater society. I just want to get through each day thinking that people in general are good, and facebook et al. simply makes that impossible. I already know, based on education rankings for instance, that Utahns are among the dumbest in the nation. I don’t need them to prove it to me daily in the local paper.
I guess eschewing facebook was my first step to becoming a hermit. And, since that first step is always the hardest, the march toward isolation and ignorance will move at a quickened pace. I’m done reading the comments on articles and media sites. As hard as it is, I will no longer scroll past the ads at the bottom to read what others are saying. By my definition, that is no longer a valid form of dialogue.
That being said, anyone, anytime who wants to meet for a beer or a nice glass of wine to discuss a current event or issue face to face…I’m there. I’ve learned it’s much harder to let the inner asshole out when you’re across the table from a living, breathing human being with a personality and feelings.