In a recent conversation, my friend told me tiredly, “My Facebook feed looks like a war between the Confederate flag and a bag of Skittles.”
I understood her social media fatigue.
Social media strikes me as a terrible platform for political discussions. There’s no back and forth.
Oh, on the surface it looks like there’s a discussion happening.
One person posts and another person responds. But before you know it a third person jumps in and says the first person is stupid. The second person defends the first person and then a fourth person says everyone’s going to hell and provides a date and time for the apocalypse.
This isn’t an intelligent discussion. This is only about who can scream the loudest.
There is a very loud minority of people on social media that troll for discussions and then throw the ugliest thing they can think of out there for the masses to see.
My friend had the perfect term for this: ‘keyboard courage’.
Keyboard courage makes people less kind.
Comments on social media turn ugly so fast because the keyboard makes people feel safe. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, what your political or religious beliefs are, what real life experiences have colored your view, or how many puppies and children you’ve saved. Crazy internet trolls are just waiting for you to comment so they can rip you apart.
If I were to comment on, say, the Confederate flag (either for or against) or gay marriage (for or against) I cease being a person with actual thoughts and feelings. I’m instantly lumped into a category that will be attacked mercilessly by one side or the other.
Internet trolls don’t care what real life experiences have changed my view of the world.
It is exactly because of this kind of crazy, I don’t comment on political discussions on social media. I have opinions. I just prefer to express them in a face to face conversation.
I’m as guilty as anyone else of being caught in a moment of keyboard courage. I’ve typed things in anger and clicked the Enter button feeling righteous and powerful only to later regret what I said.
Now I find that face to face conversations are more civilized. I don’t have to agree with you to listen to your side. You might change my mind. You might not. Sometimes I don’t know enough on a subject to have an opinion. If that’s the case, I’ll admit my ignorance and hope that I learn something.
I don’t see this sort of give and take on Facebook. A political discussion done face to face is as civil as two human beings having a beer over dinner. A political discussion on Facebook is like two dogs ripping each other apart in a mud pit.
It turns Facebook from a useful way to keep up with friends and family into an exhausting trek through hate filled tar pits waiting to suck me in.
Be secure enough in your own beliefs that having someone disagree with you doesn’t reduce you to becoming an internet troll.
No one regrets kindness, but anger and hate leave a nasty scar.
I love comments! Every time you leave a comment an internet troll becomes enlightened.