Thursday, 23 June 2016

The New Normal....

Gone are the days of using social media to share pics of your kid's, their accomplishments, your accomplishments, your pets, your garden, your dinner, your fancy drinks, a funny ad at the store, baby bunnies eating carrots, cute puppies cuddling babies, your friend- face first in the bushes after a drunken night out, your Dad napping during the big game, your new sneakers that you probably paid too much for, your favorite singer or celebrity crush, your new car, your old car, a snail on your fence, a perfect cup of coffee and other thing that seemed trivial or huge to YOU.

Remember back when you weren't subliminally trying to scar someone that hurt or wronged you? Remember when you weren't posting something snarky to piss someone off because you are now addicted to getting a gasp or some kind of reaction? Remember when you didn't have to post some new finding that you think will change everyone's mind about something? Remember when you weren't digging at an ex? Or trying to scorn someone that posted or tagged you in something you didn't find very funny? Perhaps you saw something they posted about a political candidate that you don't support, or perhaps they hunt and you support animal rights, perhaps they eat meat and you're a vegetarian, or vice versa- either way, you've found the perfect meme to post and without ever saying a name, you've made yourself feel better because you've posted your opinion and somehow you just know that the person you aimed it at saw it and now you feel like a million bucks.

Remember when you got on social media without some hidden far-fetched agenda? Remember when you things didn't bother you as much, it was just fun to interact with people you don't get to see too often or people you really just enjoy? Remember when there was no ulterior motive for the things you posted, it was just because it was funny or silly or cute?

Remember when you liked most of the people you follow? You enjoyed what they were sharing and posting, you looked forward to scrolling through your social media feeds? Remember when you were maybe just mildly passionate about a sports team and you were proud to post a score or a win, knowing you had followers and friends that were for the opposing team and it would grind them a bit but all in good fun?


Like a fart in the wind. Long gone. Far off.

It wasn't that long ago, either.

Maybe it's politics. Maybe it's religion. Maybe it's the media coverage of every single bit of everything that's out there. Maybe it's the horrible things that happen in the world that we just didn't know about before the vast internet and the new breed of reporting it's spawned. Maybe it's because we've lost sight of what makes us happy because we've been seeing so many things that make us unhappy. Maybe we're geared now to react to anything that gives us a pang. We don't just think about things anymore, we're compelled to open a dialog, react, provoke, gather more info, get a plan of action together, "DO SOMETHING!", as if thinking about it ISN'T enough. We have to share our every thought about it and see what everyone else thinks, because ....well...because why? Does their opinion matter THAT much to you? Is it just because it's become a habit to have to know what everyone else is thinking and saying? What exactly are we addicted to? The response? The reaction? The knowledge? The good, the bad and the ever-present ugly....all of it?

Not to mention the fact that I feel bad for the public figures out there whether they're politicians, journalists, singers, actors, directors, chefs, TV personalities, producers, directors, bloggers, vloggers, an unfortunate person who's picture or video has gone viral and is now the butt of a meme, or the topic of hate mongering. I guess they know what they're in for, it comes with the territory. I wish I had the thick skin they have to not let it bother them to know that millions of people are calling them assholes, posting crap about them, teaching their kids NOT to be like them, hating on them, inciting others to hate them. What must THAT feel like? Does it spur them on? Do they really think  they can please everyone or even just the ones that matter to them? Are they trying? Do they care? Does it bother them? The responsibility must be tremendous. The flip side is they will always end up finding people who love them and worship them, support them and believe in them. That must feel pretty good. I guess that's what they hang onto.

I mean, I have 1300 Facebook friends, almost 10,000 Twitter followers, and no, I don't care about all of them or even know all of them or care what they think and it sort of bothers me that they THINK I care. I mean, they must ...or they wouldn't post or comment on anything I put out there, right? I used to really have fun with social media. It seems like these days, people are quick to point out a flaw, whether it's your hair, your eyes, your nails, the background of the pic, anything. Don't get me wrong some people are nice or complimentary. Some people just give it a "Like" and that's enough, really. Nowaday, though, it feels like 11, 300 people are arguing all the time over every little thing from vaccinations, politics, gun laws, human rights, government, animal rights, Wall Street, banking, housing markets, pharmaceuticals, the elderly, the young, sports competitions, schools, crime, restaurants, cars, food, mental illness, genders, bathrooms, refugees, terrorism, borders, TOILET PAPER under or over, Starbucks versus Dunkin Donuts, meat-free, diary-free, gluten-free, this diet, that diet, these exercises, those exercises, stores, shops, fashion, lifestyles, nothing is safe from a good ol' fashioned "healthy" debate with some underlying venom thrown in for good measure and of course, a bit of subliminal under current to get you see things how someone else sees them.

There are valid arguments on both sides of everything and most people really aren't willing to listen or open their minds up to something other than what they've been convinced and what I find the worst part of it to be is that those are the exact people who are going to go to any length to make YOU hear THEM and most of them do it through social media. I've been on Facebook since 2009 and not once have I seen someone actually say after a 79-comment-thread of debates "OH, I GET IT. THANKS FOR HELPING ME SEE THINGS YOUR WAY."  So...why do we do engage? Is it the hope? Is it the rush of speaking your mind? Is it putting someone in their place? Have you? Or did they just decide that it's time to walk their dog and get off Facebook for a while? You'll never know, but you're sitting there feeling pretty damn good about your last comment. Like... you're validated. Your self worth just ramped up to an all new high because you had 3 points to their one. The reality is that it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. They are out enjoying the cool night air, the stars in the sky, the pitter patter of their dogs little feet on the sidewalk. You are sat at your laptop, with your drink to the right, the TV on mute, the glare of the blue screen in your pale, demonic face, happy as clam because, hey- you won that battle- now, onto someone else who doesn't agree with you. It feels like a sickness. But it's really just the new normal and I, for one, am sick of it. It doesn't mean I'm shutting down all my accounts and logging off of everything although that would be a really nice feeling. I just mean that I have to find a way to NOT let this ridiculous online culture that we've stretched and battered and shaped into a virtual monster mind-fuck way of life stop me from being the big old fluffy fun person I've always been.

To be honest, I don't care if you aren't sickened by it. I don't care if you see it another way. I'm not asking what you think. If I want to know, I'll ask. But just know that if I don't say the words: "What do you think?" I really don't care. To be fair- neither do you. Maybe you don't want to admit it, but you don't. What I think or feel isn't going to effect your day for one minute so why can't you resist the urge to tell me to go fuck myself, to tell me what you think, to comment, to post, to email me, to post some off the wall meme that's the direct opposite of what I feel? Probably because social media allows you to, just like it allows me to post this and by doing that, I assumingly welcome your comments, when in actuality, I really don't. Don't lecture me on changing my settings, either. I know I can turn off the comments, I know I can make my shit private, I don't need you to advise on my own mental health, here, DOCTOR.

I wasn't on the debate team in high school. I don't watch debates on TV. I don't like seeing them unfold on Facebook every 30 seconds. I don't feel like verbally defending my opinions or thoughts or posts is healthy, fun or necessary. I never have, not before social media and not because of social media. I find it draining and certainly not passionate, not powerful, not empowering, not anything but exhausting. Oh, and possibly annoying.

Seriously, I don't know how Kanye does it.

I once dated someone who thought so hard about everything: the food she put in her mouth, the things she would say in casual conversation, anything she purchased, what she wore, how she looked,  what car she drove, what she read, what she watched, how she reacted, what she felt her body was telling her, just everything in general- and I remember thinking, "That's why she's always tired!"  It was exhausting to watch let alone be a part of. I guess some people are just geared that way. Maybe it's genetic. Maybe something happened in their childhood to make them that way, maybe they actually like it, the challenge it presents, rising to it, minute to minute, always winning, maybe it's what makes them happy. All I know is, the older I get the more I find happiness in the simplest of things, mainly because you can fit more of those in your heart and head than the things you have to fight so fucking hard for.

Not saying those tough things aren't rewarding, because they are and we need a few of those to remind us of how nice the easy, simple things are.

I don't know it all. However, I do know that I don't want the new normal to be "always feeling pissed off". Pissed that this person said that, or someone did that, or voted this way, or didn't support that, or DID support that, or doesn't like this or likes THAT. I don't think that's healthy. Yeah, I get that it's MY problem. My way of fixing it is to change my own perception, not yours. By writing this is my first step. I don't know what the next steps are or if this will help but dammit, I'm trying.

As Rose says, "Worry about yourself!"  and I am, Rose. I really am.