Friday, November 6, 2015

The Downfall of Social Media

I woke this morning and dressed to take Rosie for a walk, as I always do. As we started out, kicking the leaves out of the path as we went, I recognized the feeling sitting on my chest. Sadness. I paused, trying to figure it out, trying to piece together why that feeling would be so heavy. I haven't lost anyone, nothing horrible has happened of late, there is no reason for it, until I realized there was.

I would consider myself a pretty optimistic person. I believe the best in people, to a fault, until the prove me wrong. (Or, hopefully, they don't.) I keep thinking there is more good than evil in this world. And, for the most part, I am proven right, again and again. I think what you put out there comes back to you. 

This week I have let the negatives of social media consume me. I've watched people in the beautiful world of children's literature "shout" negatives at others. There is a book at the center of it, one that some feel shouldn't have been made. The reason it is being targeted is for the way it portrays slavery.

Here's the thing, I strongly believe we need to talk about race and discrimination. I believe we are still fighting prejudice, sexism, and homophobia in this country. We need to be having hard conversations about our biases. Social media, unfortunately doesn't seem to be the place for it. People begin to feel powerful when others retweet, others agree. They begin pushing forward what they believe, but not listening to anyone else - unless you are patting them on the back. It makes me sad.

The keyboard, computer, phone, etc puts a wall between us. We are typing away, not thinking of it as a discussion anymore. I don't know what the answer is. I love discussion. I love talking, trying to figure out why I feel a certain way. It is uncomfortable at times, but I grow when I look and push myself to confront my biases, ones I didn't realize I had. Shouting matches on social media don't help me to do that. They make me uncomfortable. They made me withdraw. They make me wonder how we will ever come together. 

So for now I stay silent, like so many others online. I read and my heart sinks. I wonder why people feel the need to tear others down just to prove their point. I wonder how this could be different, how we could find a way to sit down and talk about it, how I can possibly handle staying online when it hurts me to read it. And I will continue to push my thinking with conversations in person because, apparently, that's the only way we can have them.