Today, another person I respect and adore decided to take a hiatus from social media. This is something like the third or fourth person (that I know of) in the last 6 months.
There are a lot of reasons people take time off from social media. Some want to spend more time with family. Others realize it’s keeping them from doing what they love (reading books, painting, overthrowing governments, etc.). And one very special person claims quitting Facebook it has helped him learn to move 10 lbs objects with his mind. (He’s totally lying – he’s only managed 4 lbs, and that’s being generous.)
The most common reason I’ve heard lately, however, is that there is just too much crazy.
People can’t seem to be civil anymore. The 24/7 news cycle has turned every little thing into an “event.” And many wake up in dread over what may or may not have been tweeted overnight.
They might have a point. There are numerous studies suggesting that quitting Facebook – even for just one week – has benefits. Middle school students may be particularly susceptible to issues with social media, with online bullying becoming a real danger for kids as young as 10. They’ve even come up with a new term – bullycide – for when a child takes his/her own life because of bullying. It’s heartbreaking.
I’ve contemplated taking a break. I haven’t because most of the people I know I communicate with online (#introvert). But I have cut back. And I find myself avoiding crazy as much as possible – it’s too exhausting. Not everything needs to be an argument, and not every post needs a dissenting opinion.
I think the way people are interacting online right now is a mix of opportunity and motive. Online comments lend anonymity and distance and accountability is almost nonexistent. And as for motive? There are a lot of people out there who have either felt they never had a voice and then found it, or have always had a voice and think everyone needs to hear it.
It’s unfortunate – we’re like kids who broke the expensive toy because we couldn’t respect it. Or because we played with it too much and it fell apart. I worry because I see how we interact online bleeding over into our real world interactions, and it’s getting ugly. I also worry because all the noise can block out all the good that the internet can enable.
I hope the crazy calms down. I hope those who are struggling with memories and feelings that the relentless news cycle brings are able to find peace. I hope we find a way to talk instead of yell.
I hope we keep finding funny cat videos to share online. (Thug Cat is THE BEST.)
I hope we find ways to remind each other that the world is a beautiful place and that people are worth saving.
If you need a break, take it. But please come back.
We need you.