The Dark Side of Social Media

I love social media. To me, it’s like a visit to the village well. I hear about new babies, marriages, the rude clerk at the grocery store, the discouraging job, crazy cats and devoted dogs…You get the picture (the pics and funny memes are a chuckle-worthy treat too).

Harmless. Fun. A connection to people I enjoy.

But there is a dark side. My oldest daughter, who is a social media expert, has told me to never, ever read the comments that people post about any kind of issue.

I should have listened.

I have a few issues I keep tabs on. Yesterday, with the crazy idea that I would be doing some research into what other people thought, I decided to disregard her advice and see what citizens at large had to say. That was how I became sucked in to the Dark Side of the Force.

In one click, I slid from the comfortable day-to-day gossip that fuels ordinary lives (even during election season) to the cesspool of the worst of humanity. Hiding behind supposed anonymity, men and women wrote comments that were vile. The nasties didn’t even the mesmerizing attraction of a reality TV show disaster – they were the most cruel, crude, ignorant, dehumanizing drivel I have ever read.

Made me wonder what goes on in people’s heads. Made me wonder how these people are able to walk around, presumably hold jobs, maybe even have friends, when their minds and amusement are fed by filth and meanness. Made me wonder if we are sliding irrevocably back into savagery.

So, not being a fan of whimpering in a corner, I did my best. I can’t take a bar of soap to individual media mouths but I did what I could to repel their spread. I wrote facts, references and called out mean ignorance. (I think I had a lot of muck thrown my way, but I blocked it.) If you’re as horrified as I was, I urge, beg, plead and promise you many good karma points to take up the cause for all our sakes.

I’m talking racism, misogyny, bigotry, slander, and the old-fashioned meanness that fuels it.

If you hear it, refute it, turn your back on the speaker, or walk out. If you read it, respond with courteous reason, or delete and block.

The best take on it came from First Lady Michelle Obama – “If they go low, we go high.” And that mindset needs to weave its way into the fabric of social discourse – like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other platforms that connect us.

There are no innocent bystanders and it’s always all of our business. We want a legion of folks to be ready to stand up for and protect us too. There is no place for poison in the village well of social media.