Lots of stuff is happening on the internets these days.
Anonymous death threats to women for just talking? Check. Hate-filled directives towards minorities in light of recent national tragedies? Triple check. By the way, these are all American happenings. Movements of hate we thought we buried deep in history textbooks have found new life on the new frontier of social media.
My own Twitter feed is a hodgepodge of Disney, feminist news, social justice happenings, and celebrity bullshit. Seeing these topics intertwined makes me nauseous with immediate regret- how could I write about watching television when there are THINGS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD?! What do the people following me think? Do they want less commentary or more? More sarcastic first world problems? Does anybody care what I think? (No.) Do I care? (Far too much.) I resolved long ago to not give a crap in my personal life. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to have extended much to my virtual life.
I refuse to take on the persona of a curmudgeonly old woman shaking her fist at the internet, wailing, “Back in my day…” I like social media. I need to see what things people have that I, too, want. I need to see how great/awful/meh their lives are. I like to like things and make sure people know I like those things. What would I do during work without it? On the other hand, I’ve never seen such discord in my entire life. Onetime genial acquaintances reveal their political colors, drawing a line in the digital sand meant to clearly separate. Debates become wars; rhetoric, vitriol. The same tools that gave rise to a revolution in Egypt also gave speakerphones to racists and misogynists in our own country. The wave of modern conservatism introduced terrifying voices to national platforms, voices I had never heard before 2011. I’d like to think I was blissfully ignorant during high school/college. The alternative is that social applications meant to bring people together amplified the divisions that still existed, temporarily out of sight.
I’ve blocked and muted more people this year than I ever have before. Call it intolerance of differing opinions- I’ll call it exhaustion.