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Making Some Decisions About Social Media


Good Morning My Confidants


I love social media. I do. It comes with a lot of bullshitsorry for my Frenchbut I do love it. And I will get to the subject of swearing another time. That was something I was going to address before going on and discovered the side bar was turning into an essay all its own and taking my train of thought way down another track.


So! Until then.... I love social media. I do. It comes with a lot of bullshit, but I do love it.


I think the reason I have come a lot more involved in these last few years was that I wasn't able to do my socializing publicly, in the "real world." Between the Hell Hole Job I was trying to get away from, my health, trying to get Disability, and Covid (and finally that fact that I had become fairly agoraphobic), Facebook gave me the ability to be social. To interact.


But lately....


Well, it's one of the "bullshit" parts of SM.


How serious it gets. How invested people are in their opinions--which stirs up lots of emotions and feelings. There is a lot of anger. A lot of hurt. A lot of criticism. A lot of ruffled feathers. A lot of people digging and searching to be offended or to tell others why they are being offensive, and they are a terrible human being because of [fill-in-the-blank] and they need to change!


Much of this all started because we had a lying, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic person in great political power (and who could come into power again) and liberals and conservatives are stirred up more than I have ever seen them stirred up in my entire sixty-three years of life. And I was born in 1960, so I was witness to the hippie movement and Vietnam War and protesting like the world had never seen and how all that stirred up liberals and conservatives as they had never been stirred up before.


And that led to me starting another sidebar that I cut and put as something to talk about another day! I want to tryas best as Ben canto stay on track.


The point is that the world is waking up, and there is a huge part of the world fighting that waking, and there are so many many many emotions going on and raw feelings and hurt feelings and it is so hard to know what to do and what to say and it's a minefield out there with a thousand thousand mines just waiting to be stepped on.


SO.... I am trying to figure out how to deal with it all and come across as the compassionate person that I am. And yet, I do stupid stuff as well. I get stirred up. I get angry.


And in this world of social media, where people can't hear our voices, our tones, our inflections, it's easy to come across other than we intended, or to hear others in ways they didn't intend. On top of that, so many of us are growing numb to acting in human ways. We are just so damaged that either turning off or lashing out helps us feel safe.


I am going to give a couple of examples of late...


I made a post about how surprised I was that neither Margot Robbie or Greta Gerwig were nominated for Oscars. I wasn't the only one. And in the last week there has been a shitstorm over it and there has been anger and indifference and criticism of people's concern of the nominations or lack-of-concern and how this is a shining example of the patriarchy that Barbie was all about and "no it isn't" and "You're wrong because America Ferreira was nominated, and I'm here to set you straight about this!" and people amazed there is a shitstorm going on and a whole lot of "Well, you shouldn't feel that way because of [fill-in-the-blank].


Now I KNOW that Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig not getting nominated for Oscars and whether they were snubbed or now isn't the most important thing going on in the world today. There are far more serious issues. This Barbie-thing was just one of the many straw-that-break-the-camels-back-things we deal with in our lives. We are so raw and injured that snubs or lack of snubs caused an outrage.


Or total indifference,


For instance, someone commented to me: Why is Barbie even nominated? I found it vey [sic] dull and stupid.


Really? Talk about the very definition of "Yucking someone else's yum"!


I was simply saying that I was surprised that neither of these women had been nominated. Who knew what was coming after that. A year from now, who is even going to remember? Including myself. I will wonder why the hell I was so concerned about it.


Maybe--probably--I just wanted to voice my surprise.


Maybe I wasn't wanting all these people to start telling me that I was "wrong" for how I felt.


But this is social media and when we post, willing or unwillingly, we are inviting response.


Okay, here's another one. Over the past few days I have seen this meme showing up over and over. It's in the same trope of memes that "remind" "us" that we used to ride all over town in the back of a pickup truck and drink from hoses and got spanked by the principle when were bad and said the Pledge of Allegiance and prayed in school and xxx and we're all just fine.


These really annoy the crap out of me.


Because just because those things happened and just because we survived them doesn't mean we were "just fine." a lot of kids did fly out the back of a pickup truck and die. A lot of people were scarred by being spanked (I was never spanked, but I came close twice, and I was in second or third grade and simply typing this is making me feel dread). Being spanked never ever taught any kid to be good, it only taught them to learn not to be spanked. And it all led to the huge movement of "You better not spank my child!" And that caused damage.


And driving over that bridge? It was a BIG deal to me! I was terrified. And I saw a dead person on the side of the road on a bridge when I was in my early teens and I have never forgotten it.


BUT! The point of this, and it might surprise you were I am going with this, is not the possible insensitivity of the meme. It's that I felt compelled to tell the people posting the memes that the memes were stupid and that for a lot of us, it was a big deal.


I reacted to this meme that I know wasn't posted because the person who posted it was an insensitive jerk. The person was frustrated. The person was dealing with something, I don't know what, and this somehow made them feel better. More likely than not, they weren't trying to upset anyone. And more likely than not, they didn't have a good reaction to me (or whoever) pointing out the insensitivity of the post. Perhaps someone who had a brother or sister fly out of the back of a pickup truck or die on an icy bridge because of their two-wheel drive and a lack of antilock brakes.


But what does this all mean? That a person has to be terrified of posting ANYTHING because they might trigger someone over something that happened when they were twelve years old some forty years ago?


NO! Because we are ALL responsible for our feelings. And sometimes we just have to put our big-girl panties on.


What I wish I had done was...just scroll on by. I wasted so much energy by first, getting annoyed, and second, making a comment, and then third, regretting it and not being able to remember who made the post so that I can go back and delete it!


There IS a POINT to all of this and I will get there....soon. One more example.


I made a post recently about the actor Jacob Elordi and in it I called him "gangly."


It really offended someone. He addressed this offense by saying, "He's very cute and gangly is a horrible way to describe someone, it's the husky for thin people."


And since I am who I am, I felt compelled to respond, and by using the word "horrible," I wasn't compelled to be terribly nice about my response (although it could have been far worse!).


ME: What in the world is wrong with husky? I use that word for myself all the time. It is a completely inoffensive word. What word would you use instead? I think skeletal is far worse. Emaciated is worse. Please give me an alternative. I have never heard any of my thin friends tell me that they didn't like the word "gangly."


HIM: Thin maybe. Husky was a word that got me teased relentlessly as a child.


ME: Thin doesn't describe him. "Gangly" is totally different. "Gangly" is that person who is tall, long limbed, all knees-and-elbows. As a writer I find I am always wanting to present a picture for the reader. "Thin" is way too vague.


Now I already regret all of this. I wish I had either not responded to his comment at all, because I don't remember him once making a nice comment to my posts, he only comments when something offends him. So I could have simply kept that in mind, and ignored him. But oh, no! Ben had to go on.....


BEN: And I was never teased with the word husky. I was called chunky or fat. I would have paid good money to be called husky. Husky to me was kind of macho.


What? Ben! What was that about?? By saying that, I was telling this man that his feelings weren't valid! Yes, I was reacting to the fact that his comment, which I felt were an attack. But still! Worse, I didn't leave it there!


BEN: I have so many friends on Facebook and you are constantly upset with the words I use. I thought we were around the same age. I was teased "relentlessly" when I was young. But I'm not a kid anymore. I had to move on. Put that behind me. Those kids don't even remember me. I decided a LONG time ago I wasn't going to let their words imprison me. I'm sorry, that for whatever reason, you can't do the same thing. I will keep you in my heart.


Oh, dear God in heaven! Ben! What the hell??


I am nauseous looking at my words. Ashamed! Yes, I felt incensed that he was scolding me this way. But for goodness' sake! What I said was far from the loving, kind person that I know that I really am. I mean, I not only smack back, but did so several times so that he never even responded, either because I was so mean or because he might have very intelligently decided that I wasn't' a person he didn't want anything to do with!


I "let him know" that I have "lots" of friends on Facebook (whoop-de-do!) and that he wasn't as smart (?) as them and that because I found out that I needed to get over my past and move on, that he needed to. Was I really sorry that "for whatever reason, [he] can't do the same thing"? I actually think I was. I am sorry that he can't put these things behind him and that it rules him today and is probably why he is so often negative. However, I am betting he didn't read it that way. I wouldn't have. Looking at it now it seems patronizing. It seems like I was telling him that his feelings weren't valid. And they are. And while I've never really understood what the phrase "passive aggressive" means, I am betting that "I will keep you in my heart" is the very definition of it. What I did was rude.


So.... What to do?


Well, I decided to apologize.


But guess what? He unfriended and blocked me.


And I don't blame him one bit.

So! Finally! What was this all about?


Why, it is deciding how to proceed in the future not only about social media, but in real life.


1)  I am more and more and more simply not going to respond to any posts in any other than a positive way. If there is something there that offends me? I am just going to scroll on by, even when they are saying something uncouth or crazy. Because me commenting ISN’T going to change them? They aren’t going to say, “Wow! The One and Only Ben made a comment, I should change my whole way of thinking!” And if the person is generally offensive, I am simply going to unfriend and block them, and STOP wasting my precious energy on being offended.

 

I CHOOSE to be offended. I can choose to use my energy in a different way and not get swept away in their storm.

 

2)  When I make a post and people respond in ways that I don’t like, I am not going to respond. As soon as I begin to see that I don’t like their comments, I am either going to just stop reading and go on, or delete the comment all together. The latter because I have always said I want my pages to be a safe place and if people read crap like that, OR WORSE, see me getting caught up in it, then those pages are no longer safe places.

 

3)  When people point out I am wrong, I will see if they are fact-checking me and if they are, and I am wrong, I will delete my post or correct the posting (as I did when I said no woman was nominated for Barbie, and it was pointed out that America Ferreira was). If I am right, I will either quickly and succinctly show my source of saying what I am saying, or again, delete their comment or simply ignore it.

 

4)  It is now my goal, and this will be a journey, to make these new policies GOLD in my life. In social media, and in real life. I am making it my resolution this year not to invalidate people’s thoughts, words, and especially their feelings. I don’t need to give my opinion either. Often when someone is ranting, they are really simply venting, and they don’t want my opinion, even if I am “The One and Only Ben.”


This won't happen to me overnight.


But I have a very strong feeling that this is a BIG deal and will be a huge key into me moving into that Ben that I want to be, that place I want to live, and have wanted to live in for a long time. I have been feeling something immense coming for a long time.


And I think that when I take this on, something wonderful is going to happen.


And with that I leave you in peace.

Namaste (the Divine in me sees and honors the Divine in you),

BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas



 




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No one can offend you unless you agree to be offended.


Curate your Friends list so you do not see angry, hateful posts all the time. Do not go to people's pages when you know them to post things that will rile you up. If you see something and just HAVE to respond, write it out in a Word document and then delete it.

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Thank you so much. And terrific advice!

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A while back, I deleted my Twitter account because I realized one morning I had turned into a bully. Yes, me! There's a certain husband and wife team over there that are utterly and completely wrong about everything they post. They've even admitted that some stuff is just shitposting to incite us and rack up likes and views, since they are monetized and make money there. Yep, they are career hate farmers.


But I couldn't simply walk away from the obvious. I called them out. Often. They never once responded (too busy writing the next shitpost) but their followers would jump on me and we'd have it out. Those two brought out the absolute worst in me. I tried simply…


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Thank you. And thank you so much for sharing this with me. It is very meaningful. Love you!

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Show me the principal and I'll tell you if i want the spanking. ;-)


I've fallen victim myself to pouncing on some post or comment. I usually try not to, but it still happens at times.

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Well, when getting spanked is a choice, that's a whole different ballpark, heh?


What I am thinking is that if I can learn to control myself with postings, then I can control myself in "real life."


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