Warning! Social Media Requires a Thick Skin.
Back in the 1960's there was a fad called "slambooks". In the books, you would choose a number, write your name and then open your vulnerable side up and answer all manner of questions about yourself, your likes, loves and hates. Others could look up your number and see your answers to all the questions. Then, as junior high children probably still do, you were be teased, bullied and gossiped about while your existence became a misery of your own doing. Welcome to Facebook!
Facebook has, for me, been at times, like this. For the most part, I have been generously rewarded with kind and loving people, comments and actions, but there have been a few times, when being attacked really took center stage. Ah, is it not just me, I often say. Part of the issue for me though is that in being brutally honest, I risk the wrath of those who do not agree with me and believe they are entitled to battle with me about it online. Then, there are the silent ones. The ones who say nothing, but merely disappear. And you know they have not left FB, they have left "your world" for a reason they do not believe you are entitled to know about. I must confess, there are several people I had battled with for months that I finally needed to disappear from my own life. After all, stress can kill.
I am not the only one who has been deeply saddened by the loss of people who have been a friend of mine long before Mark Zuckerberg made "the Facebook". One was a friend of over 40 years who decided something I posted disappointed him. I chalked this up to the fact that I cannot please all of the people all of the time, and need to be authentically myself. My daughter's friend however had to close her account entirely when her so called "friends" judged her decisions about her unfulfilled marriage. Who needs people in your life that not only snipe at you, but also passive aggressively post things on their own wall about your decisions? Back to Junior High here? Seems so.
I have found so many people from different backgrounds, places and times in my life. Some are as young as 16 and others are in their late 70's. All are important to me. But since FB and other social media offer written communication, many things are not only taken the wrong way, but they are misconstrued so much that people take offense when none was intended. There is simply no way one can be on social networking without having a thick skin. And therein lies the conundrum. I will not give up my opportunity to interact with the many, to please the few. Plain and simple utilitarianism is in place when it comes to making decisions about being on Facebook: the proper course of action is the one that maximizes overall "happiness" and chooses the many over the few. In other words, if your experience is that you only have lost a few people due to their inability to be tolerant and acquire a thick skin, then you have acted in such a way as to not only please yourself, but the majority as well.
Why should it come down to pleasing, to the happiness of others, to examining this issue with a fine tooth comb? Because distance and.or anonymity offers us the opportunity to be cruel or kind. Some of us never speak unkind words, or offer inappropriate judgments on our beliefs, behaviors or lifestyles. Others believe that this kind of forum allows for us to be as nasty and irascible as we deem fit.We of course only need to click a button to rid ourselves of the "problem" but it really lies within ourselves. If we cannot come face to face with our own demons and our own propensities to confront someone else and spew vermin, then we have a larger issue than we will not admit to. De-friend me, really, if you are such a caustic person. Do others a favor too, close your account and get some therapy.
The majority of experiences, at least for myself, make remaining in social media a positive foregone conclusion. I may vent, or whine when someone wounds my soul, but when most everything else that happens is such a positive experience, I will remain intact.My friends and family mean so much to me, although it is quite disheartening when a family member decides you are not aligned with their illusion of how you "need to be". So be it. If I learned anything from the slambooks of the 60's, this too shall pass.
More by this Author
The author examines identity in the movie CRASH
The author examines the words of one of her heroes: "Socrates" and our modern society.
Albert Camus was a contemporary writer who lived in French Algeria during the 1940's. His philosophy, which was an extension of the philosophy of existentialism, explored the seemingly random meaninglessness of...