Online Ugliness

I had to give myself a moment to cool off before I wrote this post, but I still don't think it sounds all that cohesive or thoughtful. Maybe I haven't cooled off yet. Here goes anyway...

So, the Women's March. I had such an amazing day and felt encouraged and uplifted and then I got home and saw all the negativity and ignorance online. I'm not even going to get into the men. If your man doesn't see you as an equal, he's an insecure, backwards asshole and I feel bad that you have to live with that. But to the middle-class white women in my feeds and timelines? Shut up. If you don't know why we marched, take a history class and pay attention to the news. Or read this. And this.

Just because you feel like something isn't personally affecting you, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I've never had a migraine, so all those people who suffer must be making it up, right? Or they just aren't taking care of themselves well enough to prevent them. They definitely shouldn't ask for assistance to help get them through it. Because, if they really wanted to get rid of that headache, they would stop whining, pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and demand it to go away.

And please, STOP telling the marchers we should be doing something better with our time to actually make a difference. From my observation and experience, we are the ones involved in our communities, supporting the arts, working at food banks, homeless shelters, and health clinics. We assist those with disabilities, walk dogs for the humane society, and spend time in schools. We are also the ones calling our Legislators, donating to our favorite causes, and volunteering with organizations we believe in. Just because we don't advertise it (I don't need your praise, I do it for myself), doesn't mean it isn't happening.

I hardly get political on Facebook and when I do it's because it's something important to me and I try to be as respectful as possible. But my little post about why I marched (or just the fact that I participated) must have pissed people off and out came the personal attacks. A message here, a comment there, and a few passive aggressive posts. My "friends" were calling me a bleeding heart liberal (as if that's an insult. My question is, why is it so bad that I care about other people? Why?), a special snowflake, a baby murderer (original), and a fake feminist (because I'm a stay-at-home mom. Girl, get yourself a dictionary!).

Last fall I deleted about a hundred social media friends. The election brought out an ugly side to some people and it wasn't just a difference of opinion or opposing political views anymore. It was hatred and bigotry and I didn't want to see it. The thing is, you don't have to be connected to everyone you've ever known. I deleted middle school classmates, old neighbors, ex-boyfriends, old co-workers, random acquaintances, etc. (I had to keep family around, so I'm thankful for hide/mute/unfollow options.) I've never cared about the numbers, my Facebook and Instagram accounts are private, and the amount of likes don't matter to me. I share pictures and stories about my family and don't think my high school best friend's ex-husband needs to be in the know.

And hey, guess what? If someone writes a rude comment (not a dissenting comment, a rude one) on my post or picture, I can remove it if I wish. I don't care if that makes you mad or doesn't seem fair. I get to moderate my own space. This had been a problem in the past when I wrote a celebratory post about the overturning of Prop 8. A few of my LGB family members and friends expressed their joy in the comments. My conservative in-laws saw it and wrote crazy opinions about the downfall of marriage, what gay parents will do to their children, and how we'll be teaching kids to be gay in school (WTF?). I deleted their comments and they got upset and unfriended me. I wasn't angry. If you can't see past my political and religious beliefs (which I had never posted on their walls) and know me as a person, I'm ok with being deleted.

So during the election, I unfriended and old blog buddy. She and I had completely different views on the world, in all aspects, and that was totally fine with me for years. Until she started getting into fights with other people on Facebook and buying into fake news. (And I mean really fake, like the pizzeria child sex ring, the warehouse full of ballots, and my favorite one, spirit-cooking.) I just couldn't take anymore and deleted her across all platforms.

The problem with Instagram though, is that you can't make someone unfollow you. I totally forgot we were even connected until she left a comment on a what I thought was a pretty harmless picture of mine from the women's march. I deleted it and blocked her (so that she'd be unable to see my stuff anymore), and she immediately sent me a Facebook message. I was scolded for not engaging in a conversation about the issue, called a bunch of names, and then she blocked me. If I'm not able to respond or even search for her, how was I supposed to engage in a conversation now?!

I'm not sad to lose her as a friend and even though I feel bad that I might have hurt her feelings, I didn't want a debate. No matter what I said, I wouldn't be able to change her mind (in this instance she was upset with me for being pro-choice) and I had already checked out of the friendship months ago.

I really am sad to see how people are behaving online, hiding behind their computers. I would never talk to someone the way I've been written to or about, especially by people I actually know and love! I try to keep that in mind when I post things, too. I have friends of all different faiths and political preferences. When I see something I don't like, I move right along. I don't feel the need to chime in or get them to side with me. It's a waste of time and energy and usually results in a bad mood.

There. That was a lot longer than I intended and I didn't even get into everything I want to say, but I got some of it off my chest whether anyone reads it or not. I had been sitting on it for a few days and it put a damper on my well-being. Right now I'm spending my time online chatting with my book club. It's on Facebook instead at someone's house because we're using our meeting to see the author in a few weeks! This is a much better use of social media, in my opinion.


Mattie @ Northwest Native said...

OH MY GOD YES! I was just thinking about how I ALWAYS see conservatives/Republicans arguing with people posting about their liberal views, but I pretty much never see it the other way around. And they say WE'RE the whiny ones?! And they have this whole arsenal of insults that they fling around (like you mentioned) which is just so ridiculous. I unfriended TONS of people around the election, and seeing people post about the women's march made me clear out my friends list even more.

Misty said...

I haven't unfriended anyone, but want to all the time. I continue to hide more and more though. I told someone the other day that if I unfriended everyone who posted ignorant remarks about the election and the world we live in, I'd end up cutting my friends list in half. (maybe more) I see and hear it every day. I really feel like I was born in the wrong part of the country.

And instead of commenting on every little thing in this post, I'd just like to say that I agree with all of it. My heart has been broken so much lately. I don't have a problem with people having conservative views and sticking to their beliefs. I do have a problem with anyone who supports and loves Trump because they think he's a super awesome guy who loves Jesus and his country. Just stop.

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

After the March someone MFD knows insulted me in a patronizing manner in reply to a comment I made on MFD's post. MFD then blocked him. And just this morning I figured out this guy contacted me via Facebook messenger (I never look at the "other" messages).

Like, stop. It's harassment and it's really bizarre to hunt people down who don't agree with you.