Out of Office Reply: Vacationing

I’m sick of social media.

I’m tired of the virtue signaling and the shaming. My twitter feed is stuffed with armchair quarterbacks who know everything about everything. Some groups on Facebook are like watching a pack of wild dogs go after a bone.

Everyone’s a writer now. Everyone can drop truth on their audience. Everyone can spread rumors and lies. 

No one really knows or cares what impact they’re having. They just hope they’re having some because social media is the new passive activism.

Hungry for validation, we wade into the fray to correct, concur, or amplify. We call them our channels and the people we address our followers. We grandstand and aggrandize. Assert our own rightness like digital bullies.

And the truly digitally savvy come behind us, learn patterns and passwords, steal identities and impersonate, sell our data and plant seeds of discord and doubt.

I cannot participate in social media because it requires a suspension of my principles.

It compels me to be understood while making it difficult for me to understand others. It betrays honesty in favor of clicks and likes and shares. Ignores dignity while asserting rightness, not compassion. Each time I even think of visiting a platform, I cringe for what I’ll find there.

In the coverage of John Lewis’s funeral this week, there was a clip from a commencement speech he gave in which Lewis implored his listeners to not become bitter, to not hate, and said, “Hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”

Scrolling the snark, I see contempt. Resentment. Mockery and derision. How close we are to hate? So close. We edge along it, sniff at it, raise eyebrows and cell phone cameras to expose humans for being human.

One viral video after another captures the manic bad behavior of someone for whom we could have compassion but instead have disgust. We judge. We laugh. We share and retweet.

What victory is had by putting others down? Making them ashamed? Seeking our own digital validation, taking for granted that mean is funny and posting to social media is activism.

We are living not just through our screens, but through the camera lens, a safe passive distance from the real hurt, the real confusion, and the real work that needs to be done.

We are zombies fed cookies, tongues lolling, eyes rolling.

Meanwhile legislation digs us deeper in debt, federal troops occupy cities, and hackers learn everything about us. Including how mean we are. And how proud.

I’m sick of social media and its substitution for real life. Its pretense that we’re connected even as we divide ourselves into irrational factions. I’m sick of posers and players and pretending the business of social is not about data harvesting when it is. Or about flooding the information with forgeries and lies to dilute the truth. Or about selling our eyeball time to paid advertisers. 

Online is not informed. Sharing is not activism. And snark is not wit.

I’m going to unplug. Let go. Vacate. For a week or so.

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