It wasn’t a knee jerk reaction, it was actually something that I’ve mulled over on occasion.
As I stared at the deactivate button, I found myself doing an inventory or a psychoanalysis on myself.
Social media is an ugly place, one that I’ve come to know very well. Doing my tenure as the Social Media writer for the now defunct Baltimore Examiner, I touched on this phenomenon in a myriad of different ways.
I’ve come to this begrudging understanding that reading comment boards is an exercise in losing your humanity – an act that admittedly has left me weary and questioning my place on a medium that glorifies that.
As a rule I always try speaking truth to my shortcomings and contradictions, versus feigning ignorance and acting as if they don’t exist – as being cognizant of it ultimately brings me closer to claiming victory over the hold they’ve had on my life.
The contentious election of 2016 has proven to be something more sinister that I could ever could have imagined. The ugliness is omnipresent and has taken on an iteration of boldness that it once lacked.
You see, I liken the realm of social media to the character of Medusa in Greek Mythology.
A story about beauty being destroyed by vanity.
In its wake laid an ugliness that turned whoever gazed upon her into stone.
This duality is something that I’ve seen played out on social media time and again. Simply put, we don’t have the courage or fortitude to speak truth to our darker angels of our nature.
So this ugliness is left to fester behind a mask of unanimity with an avatar serving as the faux representation of their truth. Thusly they are able to avoid the horror of being turned into stone (metaphorically speaking) by the countenance of their own words.
However, there are some instances where social media serves as an invaluable mirror to hateful rhetoric.
An example of this happened earlier this week:
A Mayor of a small West Virginia town had a tweet go viral, where she referred to Michelle Obama with a pejorative historically used to demean African-American’s.
She was fired from her post, but interestingly enough, she cast herself as a victim rather than taking responsibility for what she had wrought.
As I looked at my feed and friend list… I found myself taking a mental inventory of the people represented and how it served as a who’s who of people who have defined and contributed so much to my life.
But – on the other side of the coin.
I see – many people who are toxic and have anything but my best interests at heart.
I see – people who will not acknowledge interactions outside the confines of social media, who harbor ulterior motives that are primed for the ideal opportunity to exploit and manipulate to their own ends.
I see – those who will like a post, but will ignore a call or text – acting as if my outreach is a nuisance rather than it being born out of the confines of friendship.
I see – those who will consistently rear their head on a thread to say something disparaging rather than tendering something empowering.
I see those who will reach out to ask for favors without recompense or so much of a simple:
“How are you doing?” “How’s the family?“
When their queries fall on deaf ears, ironically enough I am the person standing in violation of the “friendship compact”.
So as I looked at the screen, I felt compelled to type out a brief missive:
“My exit stage left message”
So long Facebook, I’m done, I’m out of here.
And – something strange happened.
I was flooded with an outpouring of responses from quarters that I hadn’t expected.
Being on the receiving end of long-form messages about how my approach towards social media served to be instructive for them and how I needed to stay took me by surprise.
I was ashamed at how quickly I forgot that it was the medium of social media that served as an indispensable tool on my path of becoming an amateur genealogist and connecting segments of my family that spanned 200 some odd years.
I was flush with the memory of emotions that infused me every time I pulled back another layer of my family history. The act of doing this made me whole at a time when situations out of the realm of my control threatened to drown me beneath its depths.
I was told that I couldn’t sign off.
Be better than the ugly.
I was still unpersuaded.
Until… Someone told me:
Words that I had spoken a little more than a year ago.
They quoted me – I had my own words used against me.
Checking out of social media – was tantamount to running, when the calling was to be the anathema to the ugly.