The World Wide Web is an amazing thing, allowing the general population to have immediate and almost uncensored access to the world’s information. It’s a truly wondrous thing and I have to admit, it would have made high school projects a lot easier for me, had I access to it in the early 1990’s. But as with all things in life, a balance is required and there are negative aspects to having this immediate access at all times.
One of the bigger problems is that we’re constantly exposed to the world’s negativity. When I was younger, we only heard about pertinent crimes and issues that took place in our little corner of the Province. Anything beyond that didn’t matter because it didn’t relate to us. Although this might seem like a bit of a “head in the sand,” it certainly allowed for a more peaceful life. Anything of pertinence or from outside our little circle would be broadcast on the news or the radio, so we were never truly left in the dark.
The online world has become the primary means of communication in the world, alerting everyone to everything at all times. People are often shocked and awed at the things happening in the world, ignorantly unaware that these things have been happening all along; we simply weren’t aware of it. But the big change has been social media. Good ol’ social media… The unwanted step-child of the internet. I have a distinct love/hate relationship with social media, having stepped away and cancelled my accounts on more than one occasion. If it weren’t for the sheer convenience of communicating with friends and family, I likely STILL wouldn’t have any social media accounts.
Friends and family, as it relates to social media, is actually the point of today’s post. Social media unfortunately allows most people to become armchair warriors, arguing on matters that they would otherwise have no knowledge about. Or basically just complaining. And that’s where things get difficult, for me. I don’t have many genuine friendships and the associations I maintain online are often more for nostalgic purposes than anything else. The friendships I maintain involve a more traditional “in person” component. Call me old fashioned.
This is why, when someone becomes an aforementioned armchair warrior, especially on a topic that shouldn’t elicit such a response, it becomes difficult for me to maintain that association. A big part of my beliefs is the elimination of suffering from my own life as well as the life of others. No easy task, to be sure but it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that I sometimes see people I know and respect letting the cheese slide off their crackers for trivial matters that should simply have them scroll on by as opposed to commenting.
The irony is that one might take the view that by writing this post, I’m doing the very thing that I’m writing against. I guess the difference, in my view, is that this is a phenomenon that DOES directly affect me, my relationships and how I view and associate with said people who follow this practice. Unlike others, however, I won’t engage in the matters that I don’t agree with, I’ll simply scroll on by. Or in extreme cases, I’ll unfollow/block the offending party. I hate to admit that I’ve taken this step on occasion, even with family members.
I had a cousin, with whom I had minimal contact for decades. About ten years ago, we made contact and began communicating again when his mother, my aunt, passed away from cancer. An extremely intelligent and well-educated man, we had some reasonable conversations and I was happy with the concept of having a close family contact only a few hours away in Western Canada. And then, something funny happened. He got a speeding ticket and began publicly bashing law enforcement for giving him said speeding ticket.
Now, I’m pretty thick-skinned and this kind of thing has been happening throughout my entire career. I’ve sat in my mother’s kitchen while some of my uncles have literally bad-mouthed police and government for how they deal with things but that was usually i the spirit of discussion. In my cousin’s case, he was just angry about getting a ticket and it was everyone else’s fault. Had it been just a one-time thing, I likely would have left it alone, having scrolled on by. But when he got a total of three tickets within a two-month period and failed to see that perhaps his driving was the issue at hand, I had had enough.
All in all, the internet is a great resource for people and has joined the world in many amazing ways. Lost friends and family and now easily connect and communicate, people can learn and gain knowledge in ways they never have before and the world’s news is at one’s immediate fingertips. There is a lot of positive that can come from these things but as with all things in life, there is some negative as well. Instead of complaining about things online, take the time to ask yourself if it’s worth your time to do so. Ask yourself, will this help me or others? Will this contribute to the betterment of the world? If the answer to either of those is no, then perhaps scroll on by is what one should do. Food for thought…☯️