I’m parked in a public parking lot beside someone I know. Our windows are open and we’re having a conversation. She says something that an anonymous stranger walking by overhears.
“Shut up,” he mutters, striding toward a big truck parked on the other side of me.
Shut up? Is this what we’ve come to? Strangers who don’t like what they hear telling us to shut up?
Later, as I’m driving home, I can’t get the encounter out of my mind and wonder if it’s a spill-over from the free-wheeling, often less-than-kind commenting that happens on social media.
Like many of you, I’ve been on social media in some form since 2007. I dabbled in Instagram (and still pop on occasionally), Twitter (deactivated my account a long time ago), and Pinterest (I use it basically as a search engine when I’m looking for something), but Facebook and this blog are my cyber homes.
So what has the social media experiment has taught me?
That some things are best kept to myself? That I don’t need to know every political and other leaning of my friends and acquaintances and, in fact, it’s better if I don’t? That it’s a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family I don’t see often? That through it, and blogging, I’ve come to know good people I consider friends? That it’s easy to sit behind a screen and vilify people who see things through a different filter than mine? That I shouldn’t say anything to anyone I wouldn’t speak to their faces? That it’s easy to judge?
Or that maybe we’re not ready for such power and we should just stick to sharing cat videos and jokes and photos of our pets?
I’ve thought about stepping away from Facebook and, in fact, did for a few weeks in early 2021 when my mental health was anything but healthy. I employ the power of snooze and unfollow features regularly when folks get hot about something for a time, and I’m intentional about contributing something positive to the environment when I’m there. Sometimes I think about walking away and making my online home exclusively here, on this blog, but I’d miss family members, photography and writing friends, real-life friends, and others I keep in touch with over there though. It’s not all negative.
But blogging is my first love, and it’s a kinder place than Facebook.
I follow a diverse and ever-changing group of them. Back in the “golden age” of blogging, we used to maintain blog rolls on our sidebars (some still do) and it was a good way to introduce bloggers to one another. I don’t do that here, but I’d like to introduce you to some of the blogs I follow and am thinking about how best to do that. Maybe a future blog post? And maybe you follow some (or maintain one!) you’d like to introduce us to in the comments. Please do!