I grew up in the time when social media was just getting its feet wet. I had AIM messenger first, which was *the* coolest thing in Elementary. Then I had a Myspace throughout Junior High and High School. Once Facebook decided to change their rules to no longer require a college email (one ending in .edu) to join their site, I had that one in High school too. Our lives weren’t totally consumed by social media, but we were definitely that first generation to experience it. I mean, this was before parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents were even on these sites yet. It was mostly just all of us “kids”. (I graduated in 2009). So I have been around this whole social media craze from the beginning.
Throughout the years, social media has become such a staple in all of our lives. We love sharing our lives for others to see. We post pictures of our food, the beaches we visit, and endless amounts of pictures of our kids. We scroll and scroll trying to keep up with those people we choose to follow, along with current world events. It has sucked us all in and this is just the way our lives are now.
But, it’s also changed who we are and how we react as humans.
In the beginning social media was used mostly as picture sharing and status updates. We wanted everyone to know what we were doing and the cool things we were up to. People mostly commented things like, "wow, looks really awesome!" or "man, I wish I was with you!"
Today? Today I see people still wanting to do that, but others flooding the comments section with such negativity and malicious intent that it horrifies me. It's almost like that filter we used to have no longer applies.
Instead, now when someone posts a picture of their food I see comments like "ugh, nobody cares about what you're eating!" or when someone posts a picture of their trip to Europe I see comments like "must be nice to have the money to be able to do that!"
Has it become that hard to have positivity in our world?
Recently, Bode Miller’s little baby girl recently drowned in a neighbor’s pool and the comments on the news story were things like “you should have had a fence around your pool and she’d still be alive,” or “maybe if you watched your kid this wouldn’t happen!”
Hurricane Florence caused a tree to fall on a home killing a mother and her infant child. The comments read: “guess you should have evacuated when told to or you’d still be alive,” as well as “I have no sympathy for her. Evacuate when officials tell you to!” and “WOW good thing she died too or I’d expect her to be prosecuted for the murder of her baby”.
My jaw hits the floor anytime I come across comments like these. What are people gaining by saying these terrible things in a comment section? What do you gain by spewing negativity through your words? Is it just that much easier to hide behind your screen?
If you wouldn’t say it to the family’s face at their family member’s funeral, WHY are you saying it on social media?
Because it’s easy? Because the screen between the both of you is “bullet proof” and your words don’t matter when they’re typed out? Do words only matter when they’re spoken out loud?
I know, words said out loud are harder to say. But words created by a keyboard are effortless with very little repercussions, especially when said to complete strangers. So of course spewing hate in comments sections is one way to pass our time. It's not like we should be spending that time doing something more productive...
These types of comments aren’t the only ones I come across. Our attitudes towards other humans are awful on political posts, articles about sports, articles moms write about parenting, and any other topic in this world. We have no respect for someone else's point of view.
Sitting behind a computer screen gives us a false sense of entitlement. We feel like since someone is putting their personal business out there, it’s our job to voice our opinion. We think that since someone writes an article about something we disagree with, we need to flood the comment section with negativity, while calling the author names and spewing hatred for their view of the story.
We’re losing the ability to have decent and respectful debates. We just want our opinions to be said without having to see someone else’s point of view. We have no respect for someone else's perspective. We completely lack the understanding that other's were not raised to believe everything we believe. We call people "dumb" and "uneducated" when we fail to step into their shoes for 30 seconds. “Our viewpoint is always right and theirs is always wrong”.
What kind of people have we become? We love to stir the pot and cause drama because the computer screen allows us to do so. We have nothing better to do than sit on our keyboards and type words out with the only intent of being hurtful. Then when people become offended by these words, we tell them, "well my opinion matters and if you don't like it then too bad." We call others “snowflakes” and tell them that they need to buck up. We manipulate people to think they’re the problem, instead of us with our malicious words.
When did we stop scrolling past articles to now engage in pointless and ugly conversations with total strangers? Because let's face it, these conversations never go anywhere. It's not like your opinion is going to change any one else's. In the off chance that you do get decent banter back and forth, someone else usually comes in to ruin the progress.
So why do we keep participating? Why don't we scroll past?
Because it's easy and we're bored?
It's okay to scroll past.
We’ve forgotten what it’s like to have empathy for others.
We’ve forgotten we can just scroll past something we don’t agree with without commenting our hateful opinions.
We’re a humanity that attacks instead of understand.
We’re a humanity that lacks humanity.