Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Why Social Media Should Never Be Taken Seriously

Skipping long-winded intros and self-important dialogue, here's a long winded and self-import dialogue of why I personally feel that social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook should never be taken seriously:

1. Activism. Everybody and their mama can claim to be an activist for some kind of movement and if it has enough likes, shares, retweets, or upvotes, it's taken seriously. But, what we are missing here is something key: social media activism has changed nothing in the real world. In fact, I consider social media activism tantamount to prayer: It provides the person doing it some kind of comfort while having no lasting effect on the individual the message is geared toward, turning the entire ordeal into a circle jerk of virtue signaling meant to make people look and feel better.

2. "Controversy". I am so goddamn sick of hearing the word controversy attached to social media. Somebody said or did something that caused a controversy on Twitter. Somebody always says or does something that causes a controversy on Twitter, because with millions of users and diverse opinions, feathers are bound to be ruffled, and butthurt-ness will ensue. Yes, there are genuine controversies, but in the age of social media, an innocuous post can garner hundreds of thousands of responses, illicit millions of cries of racism, homophobia, transphobia, [insert religion here] phobia, sexism, etc., without offering a bit of context. And once context is presented to clarify, it hardly ever matters because the snowball of shit has rolled so far down hill, you are powerless to stop it, leading me to my third point:

3. Lynch Mob Mentality. The more followers a person or movement has, the easier it is for them to be rallied into following whatever direction they are sent in, whether through good intentions or through blatant lies. I have seen far too often that people are willing to believe stories simply because someone they liked said it, even though the "stories" have more holes than the bathroom stalls at a WeHo gay club. Person A tweets that Person B did this, and Person A's followers descend upon them with all the blind aggressiveness of a hornet's nest, except this nest is contained on the internet and instead of inflicting people with life-threatening stings, it's just furious tweets of "kill yourself" and "Die, please", the latter of which at least tries to nicely request it. 

The real crux of the mob mentality for me is how quickly it can go from simply defending a person/point of view to becoming the very thing that these individuals were rallying against. I know because I've gotten sucked up into the mob mentality, but had the self-awareness to realize it and quickly disengage. Sadly, a lot of social media users feed off of each other and like having a common enemy, giving the mob a sense of moral superiority that dangerously lacks in irony. A person makes a racist/sexist/homophobic comment? Call them out, be my guest. Ignorance needs to be called out. But, calling out ignorance with more ignorance does what, exactly? Because regardless of how many people you have cheering you on while ignoring your blatant hypocrisy, you've done nothing but make yourself feel like the victor when you are no better than the villain.

4. Social Justice Warriors. Slacktivists. Regressives. Whiny Adult Babies. SJWs are a movement that came out of social media, as many of us minorities felt like we had no voices of our own to reach the masses. We felt like we were alone and that there were none that thought or felt like us. Then came these communal websites that allowed us to convene and share ideas and join groups while still living in anonymity in the real world, likely less inclined to be as vocal and as boisterous as our online accounts allow us to be. Within a fraction of that movement, though, originated a totalitarian faction that scoured the internet looking for offense to be taken, ignoring any or all context to form an opinion that shaped their militant take on social issues. They don't have power alone, but together they can start hashtags, petitions, and disrupt other functions to get their message heard. The message being that because they view this as being this way, it should not exist, once again, the irony of such a stance is not lost on me.

5. The Hypocrisy of Free Speech. Most sites have tools in place to police up trolls that have nothing better to do than to spout incendiary rants and statements purposely geared to rile up those who are easily rattled and offended by words. The response? Flag their comment, bring it to the attention of the site owner/moderators, and they will take the appropriate action against the user. It's a necessary tool, as there are individuals using their accounts to send threats, dox individuals (spread personal information about users), and those that are just garden variety spam accounts. 

Now, I got that shit out the way... here is the hypocrisy: there are those who are quick to use their own accounts as platforms for their own causes, only to then cry foul when others use their accounts to do the same. To top that off, they will then turn right around and use the very mechanisms site owners have in place to police profane and threatening language to simply silence differing opinions. It's frankly annoying, namely because it demonstrates the flaws in these flagging systems and just how pettiness can rear its ugly head over the internet.

6. Safe Space. Safe spaces on college campuses, safe spaces on the internet, safe spaces in society. Are you serious? Really? Safe spaces used to exist in society for individuals who were maligned and threatened with physical violence and death, and needed a place for them to truly be in their element and actually safe. Nowadays? A "safe space" is basically something SJWs want to free themselves of any criticism to their opinions and ideas, a place where everything is monochromatic and one-minded, a place where free thought is discouraged and agreeing is enforced encouraged. I've seen "safe spaces" being advocated for on Twitter and Tumblr, which makes me scratch my head... why would you need safe spaces on the internet? 

It is literally a connection of millions of computers and mobile devices across thousands of networks; the "safe space" is wherever you are logging in. The "safe space" is your fucking home/dorm room/bedroom/garage where you can go and unwind and disconnect from the world. The safe space ain't Twitter, or Tumblr, or Instagram, or Facebook. Unless your account is set to private, which most social media sites allow, be prepared for people to see your opinions, pictures, and videos, and leave comments on them. It's not the Internet's job to hold your hand and only show you gumdrops and rainbows. 

Guess what? People suck.

People will ALWAYS suck!! Fat-shaming? Slut-shaming? Homophobia? Racism? Sexism? It's gonna keep happening on the internet where it goes basically unchallenged... and that's a good thing. Because the minute you allow people to start dictating what one group of people say over the internet, it's not that long before all language is sent through a blender and reduced to a puddle of non-offending vanilla blandness that renders free exchange of thoughts stagnant. 

By all means, we should use our own voices to challenge the opinions of others and to allow our own reason and logic to trounce on poorly thought out arguments. What we shouldn't do is attempt to police the internet and social media to be our online protector because someone said something that "triggered" me and now I want the owners of Twitter and Tumblr to keep me safe between pressing "Tweet" and getting off the toilet to wipe my ass. 

Social media is a great tool for linking up with people from your past, meeting new people, joining online groups and communities, and just having your voice heard. But it's only a site. It's not an entity that can hurt you, a shelter from the storm of life, and most important, it's not your FUCKING MOMMY AND DADDY!!! Instead of dealing with people you don't like online, block them. Ignore them. Counter their nonsense with a well-reasoned retort.

Or... just log the fuck off.

Okay, I'm done. 

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