I believe the first time I ever involved myself with any form of social media was while I was deployed to Iraq in late 2005. Remember MySpace? That was it back then.
If you want to go back even further, how many of you still use Classmates.com? I don’t believe that is considered as social media, but the reason I mention it is because that was really the first time since I left home to join the Army back in 1997 that I began reaching back out to friends I grew up and went to school with. Obviously with social media, there isn’t much need for it anymore, but I can remember it fondly.
I honestly cannot remember how I discovered MySpace, if anyone told me about it, or what have you. I’m sitting here right now and seriously trying to remember how it even made its way into my life and I have no idea. But once I discovered that it was something a LOT of folks used and all I had to do was to type names in the search area, I thought it was amazing. Of course, the first thing I did when I had time, was type in all the names I could think of. Friends, family I hadn’t heard from in years and maybe even a teacher here and there. Being able to add them to my friends’ list was great.
At that time, I was just thrilled to be able to not only find these people, but to be able to talk to them and to catch up. By now, it has been nearly 20 years since I left home in Baltimore, and it goes without saying that social media has evolved since then.
Now, not only can we simply interact with old friends and family, but we can also visit millions of other pages and interact with total strangers as well. I say “now” because I can’t remember if this was as prevalent on MySpace, so forgive me if I’m incorrect.
In thinking of others joining social media for the first time, I can’t imagine too many saying, “Yes! Now I can find random people and spend hours upon hours arguing with them!” Nah. Everyone isn’t like me, but I think it’s a safe bet that at the first time many discovered social media, it was similar thoughts as far as simply wanting to reconnect.
So why does it seem that so many people spend SO MUCH TIME simply arguing with others?
Don’t get me wrong. I am FAR from “holier than thou.” A few years ago, I did this myself. So I do get it. It was largely following certain Facebook pages from my hometown sports teams and news. But there came a time when I realized just how much time I wasting in doing this and understood that I needed to get away from it. As an author and screenwriter aspiring for a professional career, arguing on social media definitely was NOT where the bulk of my time needed to go.
For some of us, it may not be initial intentions to “argue” at all. We could very well be entering conversations meaning to discuss or even debate. That’s a lot of what I did. However, we know how quickly these can turn into arguments. How one comment turns into ten turns into a hundred. How one minute turns into ten minutes turns into an hour turns into two hours…
…and so on…and so on…
I’m not here to preach anything. I’ll try not to, at least. But it’s not so much the innocent discussions that lead to maybe some mild and intense debating that I’m referring to. It’s those who simply live to argue with others online.
I don’t mean trolls, either. They deserve an entire blog post to themselves.
But why do some folks do this? Yeah, I get the whole “Freedom to…” deal, but no one is looking to take any freedoms away, so chill. I’m just curious. Of all the things I wake up in the morning and want to do, arguing with total strangers is definitely not one of them. I will say that I spend a LOT less time on social media than I once did because I simply don’t care to engage in that anymore. That’s not to judge those who do, but again…SO MUCH time is spent doing this.
It’s that, along with writing what we KNOW will lead to arguing. Come on, people…you can pretend to be “innocent” all you want, but you know what’s going to rile people up and many times, that’s the whole intent. To start discussions that you KNOW will lead to this.
If I wrote something like, “I’M SO SICK OF WHITE PEOPLE COMMITTING SERIAL CRIMES!” on my Facebook page, I can’t sit here with a straight face and honestly say that I’m not expecting SOME people to be annoyed with that to the point of wanting to eventually argue. Same as if a white person said, “SO SICK OF ‘THEM’ (of course, capitalizing or putting a great deal of attention on ‘them’ in some other clever way) ROBBING PEOPLE AND SELLING DRUGS IN GHETTOS!” I mean, sometimes it’s so blatant and sloppy that I find it comical when folks try to backpedal and claim that’s not what they’re doing.
And lastly, let’s take the recent unpleasantness. How many of us have heard of friends and family ending relationships over the election? Talk about spending countless hours and days on something. People we once loved and respected, and because of intense and heated disagreements, we feel that they are no longer worthy of our respect and love?
And I can go on and on.
But seriously…how did something that started off as such a beautiful thing turn out so ugly for so many people?
One theory I have is this…once we realized that point where we can express ourselves a little more freely and more often on social media, it excited us and it gave us a chance to express ourselves more. We ALL have something to say and social media is the one place where we can’t be silenced. Again, it’s a safe bet to say that at SOME point early in the life of social media, this thought crossed all of our minds.
However, when ONE person wants to share an opinion, so does someone else. And then someone else. And then someone else. I think that for the most part, we’re all okay with that…until the opinions actually come out. That’s when the fighting happens.
I feel like that could be a big reason. That folks simply can’t handle the opinions of others. We started off loving social media for the reason of being able to share what we feel about this and that, but apparently, even though most of us share this with the world, we haven’t quite figured out how to handle the way others do the very thing we love to do ourselves.
But seriously…how in the world did something that started off to beautiful thing turn out to be, very often, so incredibly ugly?