Social Media – Walking The Line
Sometimes I wonder whether if I would be better off without using any form of social media.
However, it’s practically unthinkable not to be involved. I can interact with like-minded individuals, discuss politics, arrange meet ups, share ideas, promote my blog, communicate with anyone (even if they’re famous). The opportunities for connecting with others and sharing ideas are something that could have only been dreamed about by previous generations, so not using it is not a viable option for me.
When it goes wrong however, the consequences for me can be spectacular. I don’t know if I’m unusual in this respect – being ‘over-sensitive to criticism’ is often said to be an autistic trait (although who gets to define what level of sensitivity is appropriate is unstated). Even the tiniest bit of nastiness or ambiguity can send me crashing to the ground. I feel wounded and vulnerable for days, it affects my moods and consequently, every aspect of my day to day life. I feel sorry for my partner, as he has no idea why I’m behaving differently. I did try explaining once, but I was told “what do you expect?”, so I can never mention it again.
Even minor things, such as none of my friends liking my Facebook post can put me on a downward spiral. I convince myself that I am boring and stupid and no-one likes me. I feel ashamed for posting such nonsense and if the post was even remotely personal, then it is a further indication that I am a worthless individual.
At the moment, I have a message from a stranger in my Facebook inbox.
I was given a preview of the first line, so I know what it relates to and I know that it’s not going to be at all pleasant. Unfortunately, I am a speed-reader and when I look at a piece of writing, whole blocks of text jump out at me fully formed, without me physically having to read it. This means that even a slight glimpse of the message would expose me to its full horrors.
Consequently, it’s sitting there in my in-box like an unexploded bomb.
Even when interactions don’t go too badly, I am left feeling slightly disturbed by the whole thing. I feel slightly grubby. The problem is that when you choose to interact with strangers on social media, you are telling the world that it’s OK to judge you, but it isn’t. There is therefore a tradeoff between the desire to be a part of society and have your opinions heard, and the sense of shame that comes from deliberately putting yourself in a position where others have power over you.
Perhaps I will gradually become de-sensitized over time, but is this what I really want? I don’t want to live in the kind of society in which it is appropriate to throw snide comments, accusations and abuse at people on a whim and where this type of behaviour is considered acceptable.
I would prefer it if others began to consider the impact that their words can have on others. When you write a post, you are responsible for every word you use. It was your brain that chose those words and every single one of them was chosen for a reason, so you must accept the consequences if you accidentally offend someone. On the other hand of course, if you genuinely intend to hurt someone, then that’s your decision.
Before I post something, I try and imagine how others may interpret it. I check for any ambiguities or for parts of the text which could be misunderstood. At the same time, I don’t want to make everything I write so bland that there is no point in writing it at all. It’s a fine line to tread, but I hope that it will become easier with time.