Social Media Burnout or I Don’t Really Care What You Think

Along with my short list from the other day of some of the reasons for the lack of posting here, there’s this.

Some days, I just don’t care about other people’s opinions. Even when they agree with me, their need to assert it on the Interwebz just seems tiresome.

(Cue mass unfollowing from Twitter.)

I don’t feel this way all the time. If I did, I would just quit social media (cue cheer from certain corners!). As examined in this well-written post by Carpetbagger, the way opinions and positions are so very diametrically oppositional is wearing.

And it’s not even November yet!

I can pinpoint this feeling exactly to the day the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act was being revealed. I actually (briefly) unfollowed a couple of people because if the law was not upheld I did not want to view or participate in their particular brand of gloating. Even if it was very subtle. I just did not want to deal.

(I’m not proud.) (I did refollow them.)

And due to the persuasive presence of social media (in my life, anyway), we are (I am) awash in Other People’s Opinions. All. The. Time.

Then we had the Aurora theater shooting, and the horror expressed over the fact that there were children in the theater at a midnight show. (None of our business! Not our children! The parents didn’t take them to the theater to be harmed. What happened was the fault of one very sick person.)

For the record, I had two — TWO — very interesting and civil conversations on social media (one on Twitter and one on Facebook) with two people with different opinions than my own. To sum up: they asserted that if citizens had been able to carry concealed weapons, the carnage in the theater would have been less. I asserted that I strongly doubted that. We all had our good and valid reasons for our positions, and no one called each other reductive, nasty names.

Of course, the general parent judging that goes on all the damn time in general. Over it, and I still get sucked into the debate. If not directly by commenting on it, at least I read things that piss me off. Gotta learn to NOT CLICK.

Then the whole gay marriage/Chick-fil-a flap. I was dismayed to see some people in my social media circles supporting Chick-fil-a on their so-called “Customer Appreciation Day”. But that’s their right. It’s my right to never set foot in there again. It’s the beauty of the free market/democratic society! You get to say what you want, give money to organizations you want, and I get to boycott you!

Let’s review, real quick, the “freedom of speech” clause. It’s pretty straightforward: The government cannot censor speech. That’s it, in a nutshell. The government can’t shut down a newspaper, TV channel, or Internet site. The government can’t hack your blog and crash your servers.

Can you be fired from your job by mouthing off about your employer on Facebook? Yup. You can say whatever you want, but in some cases — not related to government censorship — there are consequences. If Dan Cathy wants to give money to organizations that work hard to suppress civil rights of a minority, he is free to do so. I am free to not eat his waffle fries.

In all the hoopla, this article from The Daily Beast was my favorite. It’s written by a gay employee of Chick-fil-a, and I honestly hope that if you are on the wrong side of this issue, it gives you pause.

Sometimes, it’s good to read things on the Internet that make you mad. It’s good to read stuff you don’t agree with. I think it’s important to know what others think and why. Just keep in mind that your next move should be to think before you type an angry, hate-filled comment. If you can’t think of anything that’s not flaming with anger or filled with hate, then don’t say anything. You are free to disagree — you are, even, really, free to be utterly uncivil online, I have to admit there’s no law against being an asshole — but do you really want to be the troll in the room? Hate has never, ever ever, in the history of the world (to my knowledge) changed someone’s mind for the better.

Some other things that drive me up a wall, in no particular order:

1. Being passive-aggressive online. If you have something to tell someone, tell him/her.
2. #vaguebooking (or #vagueTweet) This one probably bugs the majority of social media users. If you have to wait to tell us something, then wait!
3. Truly random, all-over-the-place posting. I know the Internet is the Wild West of communications, but sooner or later, if you want to do it right, you’ve got to find a theme, a niche, something you care enough about to regularly talk about. [Edited to add: The nature of Twitter is random, and I understand that. However, after a while, you start (if you are “good” at it) to talk about a few topics regularly. Yes, there’s going to be randomness. I guess the type that I’m talking about is navel-gazing randomness with no rhyme or reason, or totally goofy mental vomit. I’ve gotten to know people from Twitter, and when you are all over the place, it’s hard to have a conversation with you.]
4. Sponsored posts. These less drive me crazy than make my eyes glaze over a little bit. Confession: I don’t read sponsored posts, not from Babble, not from Big Name Bloggers, not from other writers I regularly follow online. I’m sorry, it’s nothing personal. I just see “This is a sponsored post from XYZ”, and I click on the next thing.

Do other people’s opinions wear you out? What do you do? Should I take a social media timeout? Until after the election?! (Not really, not going to happen.)