The Great Moral Cesspool...
THE GREAT MORAL CESSPOOL...
As each day passes, I grow more and more weary of Facebook and this whole social media nonsense. It is exhausting and frustrating...at times even maddening! I am so tired of all the toxic posts, the hatred expressed, the fake news, the barely literate people. I know that sounds somewhat condescending...but I am only being truthful.
My father used to say...
“Opinions are like buttholes.* Everybody’s got one and more often than not they stink!”
* He used a different word!
As you can see, I descend from literary geniuses!
Yes indeed...everyone has an opinion, to which they are (of course) entitled. But I’ve found that far too many times these opinions are incredibly ill-informed. I blame this of course on the perpetuation of fake news and biased opinions posted relentlessly on social media. The sad fact today is that most people, if they aren’t tuning in to the inane late-night ‘liberal-leaning’ comedians for enlightenment, they get their ‘news’ from social media...
It’s not what people know or don’t know that bothers me,
it’s what they claim to know that just ain’t so!
Many people attribute this quote to Mark Twain, but as it turns out that ain’t so either! But I am getting off course, aren’t I?
I cannot remember the last time I logged onto any social media app and felt happier or calm afterward. I have threatened to quit so many times in the past that even I have stopped believing myself.
But that is going to change!
Over the years, I’ve used social media to demonstrate (and improve) my writing talents. I have used it to develop reader relationships, distribute essays that I’ve written and to grow my writing business. I was at one time convinced that social media platforms are some of the most effective marketing tools ever created, especially for writers. In these days, I’ve begun to question its efficacy.
But like many other creative people, I’ve also found social media to be a major source of unwanted distraction. It can serve to be a drain on one’s creativity. These platforms are magnets for attention, often pulling me away from my more important work. Two years ago, while in yet another COVID-19 lockdown, I began taking this pull more seriously. I found myself asking this question several times a week...
“How much more writing could I accomplish in a week
without social media’s constant drag on my time and attention?”
And so, I tried a short-term solution...
I took a social media fast!
I deleted the applications from my phone and my tablet. I logged out of my profiles on my desk computer so that I would have to type the password each time I wanted to log in.
At first, this tactic seemed to work. Sadly, however, it offered only a temporary fix! At best, it helped me push through a few days, maybe a week.
In the end, I returned to the habit of mindlessly scrolling through my newsfeed.
It is now October 2022, and my plans are to try a more drastic approach. Beginning 1 January 2023, I will be taking a one-year break from all social media outlets. I have put up with enough...
photographs of tortured animals
videos of human brutality
comments of political idiocy (on both sides of the political aisle)
...to last me a lifetime.
I knew I could simply log out to escape it and at times that was exactly what I did. But when the ugliness, threats and vitriol began coming to me in emails and private messages...well, I have run out of patience.
Diana and I have begun developing and producing a podcast that we will broadcast internationally from my studio on a weekly basis. The format we’ve chosen is to pull current events out of the news...the social and political happenings that impact our lives, and address them from a positive-thinking perspective.
On the last day of this year, I will close all my social media accounts and be done with this nonsense. I will start the new year getting on with the business of experiencing life again with friends, family, business associates and acquaintances...this time face to face!
I highly recommend you consider doing the same!
The great promise of social media was simply this...
By giving voice to ordinary people all across the world
our collective experiences would help society reach a higher consciousness.
Just as the internet was designed to bring the world of knowledge to our fingertips, social media was supposed to bring together our diverse perspectives and the vast wealth of uncodified human knowledge that is found nowhere else on the web.
But that did not happen...
The reality as we all know has been quite the opposite. Social media for the most part has become a toxic cesspool of hate and stupidity, arrogance and character assassination. There are those who indeed use it for its intended purpose. But if they would have to be honest, they’d admit to finding it nearly impossible to not be affected in one way or another by the ugliness.
Social media has become yet another venue where the loudest and most obnoxious people win the day and enlightened insight is overwhelmed by emotional sarcasm, political pollution, toxic vitriol and overt stupidity.
Let me let you in on a little Facebook secret...
Back in 2004 a young Mark Zuckerberg, a mere 19 years old at the time, had just started building Facebook. He sent his fellow Harvard classmates a series of instant messages in which he marveled at the fact that more than 4,000 people had volunteered their most private and personal information to his nascent social network...
“People just submitted it to me!” he exclaimed. “I don’t know why. I don't know them, and they don't know me! But they trust me for some reason. Can you believe it? These people are dumb fucks. I smell money here! I wonder how many more are out there?”
Eighteen years later he has the answer to his question. The number of people who have trusted this strange little man with their personal information has grown from 4,000 to 2,900,000,000 (that’s billion!).
Apparently, the supply of ‘dumb fucks out there’ is endless!
But this is the way social media works...the same way all those “free” apps we sign up for work as well.
Are we really so stupid as to still believe ANYTHING is free in this world?
There is a price tag hung on everything nowadays, whether we see it or not, whether we are aware of it or not, whether we understand it or not! These platforms all have a similar business model. To collect, share and exploit as much user data as possible...
all without our informed consent!
They make billions of dollars off our gullibility and all we have to show for it is a few followers and friends, the vast majority of which we don’t even know!
And sadly, there are no government agencies or other safeguards in place to stop them. Why? Because governments and even law enforcement agencies are all profiting from it in one way or another.
I'm sure you've read plenty about the pros and cons of social media. Before you stop reading my diatribe today, please...let me assure you this isn't one of those lectures.
Instead, I just feel compelled to tell you about some of the toxic social media habits that I have personally fallen victim to and how I am slowly managing to claw my way back out. Maybe they can be of help to you.
I admit I was very reluctant (back in the day) to get involved with Facebook, or any social media platforms for that matter. Had it not been for a young girl from the University of Florida, the roommate of the daughter of a dear friend of mine, I may never have taken the plunge.
“You are only living half a life!” I remember her telling me at a picnic I was attending near Ocala sometime around 2008. “Like OMG Giacomino! Facebook is the bomb! I can’t even believe you’re not on it!”
Now I must admit, I had to run home to look up the meanings of OMG and the Bomb but once I did, my curiosity was piqued. I, like all the sheep and lemmings before me, signed up. I offered my personal information believing I had no other choice if I wanted to experience the ‘other half’ of life. And I am a bit embarrassed to admit it now, but I had every reason to believe my information was safe and would remain private.
Poor, poor, foolish and pitiful me!
One thing led to another and a few years later I was a twitter...or a tweeter...or whatever they are called. Next came Pinterest...then Instagram. I must admit, I never quite understood Snapchat, so I avoided that one.
All of that led to me spending much, much too much time on all of the above and far, far too little time with the people I really cared about and actually knew.
Over the past year or so, I am finding myself becoming increasingly and intentionally more distanced from all social media. I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but I am sure those 5000 friends and 7000 followers I’ve amassed have noticed.
Just a few weeks ago, after an altercation with someone I do not know and have never met, I made the decision to give up on Facebook...this time altogether.
Twitter lost its appeal to me when it became a toxic cesspool of hatemongers and free speech quashers! I closed my account more than a year ago and have never looked back. My interest in or desire to use Instagram is also fading quickly. There is something called Tik Tok that has invaded it and I find it mind-numbingly offensive and soul-destroying! My last post there was ten, maybe eleven months ago.
And I must admit I don’t miss it either...I am actually much happier for it.
I bet I'm not the only one who has been sucked into the social media vortex and spat back out feeling like a former shell of the person we were. But just because I am giving up, does not mean you should. I can honestly say I enjoyed talking with my real and virtual friends and I’ve learned much from many of the people that I followed.
My decision to quit social media came as an epiphany of sorts. Social media must always be more about what makes us happy and never about what makes us sad. We must be willing and able to let go of the people and habits that bring us down.
I remember reading somewhere once, some pretty good advice when it comes to social media...
"Enjoy it, embrace it, but also remember to be responsible with it."
We need to be more aware of how we approach the online world. And as for the toxic habits we might develop, we should not stress or feel badly if we pick up any of them...we all do at times. But we must be conscious of their effects on us.
Here's a few of the toxic habits I found myself falling victim to and a few words about how I am freeing myself from them...
FIRST, I found myself friends with or following people with whom I had absolutely nothing in common. A quantity of friends had become much more important to me than the quality of friends I was acquiring. So, I began doing an experiment.
I began to write personal messages or interact with many of these people, just to see their reactions. Sadly, but not surprisingly, most did not respond and many, if they did, offered hollow platitudes or that damn “Thumbs Up” icon I have come to despise. Not many had any real desire to converse or interact.
Realizing that these people were not friends and cared not a whit about me, I began “un-friending” dozens of them on a daily basis. I found my friend list diminishing quickly.
Surprisingly, the loss of these people as ‘friends’ made absolutely no significant difference in my life. And it probably made no difference in theirs.
C’est la vie!
I was left with a much smaller core of friends...ones that I felt cared about or were at least somewhat interested in me and what I have to offer. If you go to your friends list and find me there...well, know that you are a survivor of my purge!
SECOND, I found myself forgetting to live life. I was constantly checking to see who had posted what or who had responded to any one of my many posts each day.
I would keep my Facebook account open and my notifications on all day and night, so that I wouldn’t miss anything. I was on stand-by for goodness’ sake, and it distracted me from doing and enjoying the things that are most important to me...
My Diana, Meg, my writing, my farm and my life.
To rid myself of this nasty diversion and distraction, I have established what I call my SFMT...
social media free time!
It is not free time for me to spend on social media, rather it is time that I spend off social media. I spend less than thirty combined minutes throughout an entire day on any of the social media platforms.
THIRD, I was allowing what people said (or didn’t say) to get the best of me. It exposed a trait in me that I thought I had banished years ago.
I realized I had expectations. And when these people did not perform according to what I expected, it ran me through a whole gauntlet of emotions.
This is what I learned quickly...
Looking for validation from people we do not know and have never met
is not how we are supposed to be measuring our own self-esteem!
FOURTH, and perhaps the most damaging, was allowing myself to get sucked into all the negativity that grows like vile weeds on social media. I found myself involved in petty or inane debates (arguments) where I just had to get in the last word!
I will admit, there are a lot of positive people and comments to be found on social media, but their numbers pale in comparison to the negativity and vitriol to be found there.
Whether it's watching (and sometimes personally participating in) people jumping onto the bandwagon of criticizing someone who may have slipped up by saying something offensive, spelling something wrong or perpetuating fake or false news, I find social media, Facebook especially, can and does become a whirlpool of...
arguments and disagreements
lies and fake news
derision and despair
insults and ugliness
Constantly being exposed to all that crap was making me cynical and sarcastic...caustic at times. And I found these attitudes and moods were seeping into my everyday interactions with the real, touchable, tangible people in my life.
I even found myself turning into someone who was less forgiving, quicker to try to “cancel" someone out, even when they had only made an honest mistake or were willing to apologize for it.
Thank goodness I caught myself doing these things and stopped.
No matter how hard we try, we don’t always remain conscious of our behavior. Social media is a powerful force, one to be reckoned with, and it can be used for good or bad.
So, let's be honest...there is already too much negative energy in this world. We don’t need any more arguing, negativity, division or hatred!
Let’s make sure we are not contributing to it.