Monday, December 17, 2012

Can I Go Back Under the Rock Now?

There was a time that I wasn't on Facebook.

I didn't read political blogs.

I didn't read commentary on the Middle East, or terrorism, or any of that.

I didn't read the news every hour, follow the latest columnist on his tirade against corporate America, or those calling for stricter laws on guns/drugs/prostitution/etc./etc.

In fact, I think I was quite blissfully unaware of a lot of the endless chatter going on between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, independent vs. everyone else, and on and on.

And it wasn't just politics, but everything else, too. Atheism vs. Christianity. Heck, even Christian vs. Christian. The culture wars. The sexualization of our girls. And on and on and on.

I lived in a bubble. I was consumed with my writing and my history. I didn't really get concerned about these types of matters until around 2008 when the presidential election started to heat up.

Ever since then, I've crawled out from underneath my rock and in a lot of ways, I regret it.

I've had troubled evenings thinking about arguments I've had with people, turning it around and around in my head to try and figure out how I could have convinced them of my point of view...which is pretty much pointless in most cases.

I've feverishly checked my FB statuses or the statuses of others to see what new comment has been made.

I've hit the "refresh" button far too many times to see what new tidbit of information on the latest tragedy has appeared on a news site.

I've spent countless hours googling information, digging into the issues, and more often than not, finding opinions that generally agree with my own.

I've argued with complete and total strangers on Twitter and, most recently, even a minor celebrity.

I am not proud of this.

I sometimes wish I could go back under that rock.

I'd love to go back to that bubble, to be consumed with my passions - writing and history - and not be so concerned with the noise emitting from every website, FB status, and Tweet of the minute.

In some ways, social media has sucked part of my soul away.

That's the negative view of things, of course.

On the flip side, I've become much more knowledgeable of politics, world affairs, and the myriad viewpoints of just about everyone. I've researched subjects I've never thought to research before because some conversation spurred me to it. I've also bonded with people I don't even know over a shared opinion - and knocked heads with those opinions I don't share.

As in so many things in life, it comes down to this:

Balance.

Being knowledgeable of the world is good. Having an opinion and wanting your country to be the best it can be is good.

But it can also be draining - soul-sucking, mind-numbingly draining.

And when you're drained, you don't have much energy to devote to the things you love.

What is the solution in this day and age where so much of our lives is done online, from paying bills and checking emails to watching movies and playing games?

I'm really not sure. I've done a few things, though. I did delete my Twitter account. I did "unlike" some FB pages where the discussions would get so heated, it would tear me up inside. And I did make the realization in the first place that I had a problem.

But I am still trying to figure all of this out. I imagine I'm not alone.

I've blogged about the Internet being a two-edged sword, so I'm still trying to make sense of how I can make it fit into my life without sacrificing my sanity.

Anxious to hear your thoughts and opinions.







20 comments:

  1. I fully agree with you. How interesting to read your blog post tonight, after a deep conversation with my husband and a friend about just this! :)

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    1. Great minds think alike. :)

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  2. I know exactly what you mean. I never paid a lick of attention to politics or "important stuff" until the last couple of years and I've learned that I have to consciously back away at times or else make myself physically sick from the stress of all the bad and crazy in the world.

    I've also learned that I seem to be the black sheep of the family, not holding any of the same political or religious views that they do and it is very trying at times, feeling I have to censor myself in order to not offend anyone, and being pissed off at the same time that I have to do that. (I know I don't HAVE to do that, but in order to keep the family peace I kinda do). So I have a "hidden" second facebook account under a slightly different name (and no family allowed) so that I can vent my opinions all I want with no repercussions, lol!

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    1. My dad and I are radically different in our politics, too, and we get into some pretty good discussions. But sometimes we both get so mad that steam is probably coming out of our ears!

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  3. Elizabeth Parker10:42 PM

    I've been having this problem, too, Melissa. It tears me up inside to see this country that we love being purposely destroyed from within and without. And yet, I don't want to ignore and try to be blissfully ignorant either. Lately, I've had to back off a little by realizing that I can't "save" the USA by "enlightening" people. It's not my job, and I don't have that power. I've found some answers by reading about the KARPMAN DRAMA TRIANGLE. That's when a person tries to rescue people, gets angry at them when they refuse to be rescued, and then feels like a sad victim when nothing works. It's when a person alternates between rage and sadness. I still waste time posting comments that I know darned well won't change anybody's mind. I still lie awake at night with my mind in a turmoil. It's a hard lesson for me, but I've been doing a lot of reading, and it's helping some. Ultimately, I think we have to have balance, as you said. And trust in God. And focus more on our own lives. It's about the only thing we can do now.

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    1. Betty, that is very interesting - the Karpman Drama Triangle. I'll have to check it out.

      What I worry about it how much energy I expend on this stuff, energy I could be using in much more productive ways. I need to learn to figure it all out somehow!

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  4. I agree but I don't tend to spend too much time reading Facebook and Twitter. That's my only saving grace!

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    1. You are doing it right, Flower! =D

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  5. Hi Melissa ... I'm trying my best to stay out of emotionally charged discussions whether they be about religion or politics or some other divisive issue. As a Canadian I am well schooled in the need to keep my mouth firmly shut when I'm visiting our wonderful friends to the south :) But I do know what you mean about being overloaded with information. A very different world from what our parents and grandparents knew.

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    1. I agree - it's VERY different. Our news is instant, which has its own set of problems, because we get impatient when we have to wait for more - even if it means we get the facts wrong.

      I sometimes wonder what my grandmother thinks of all of this as she is on FB and the Internet now, too. Maybe I'll ask her over the Christmas holidays. :)

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  6. I often day dream about life with no internet! I know there is a lot of useful and good things that come about because of it, but I wonder if the bad out weighs it. The time it sucks form our lives, the things that we see and hear about that normally we wouldn't - are they really necessary?
    Maybe if we were more focused on our own lives then the world, as a whole, would be a better place.
    I have been on the verge of bowing out of FB, Twitter etc etc so many times, I still might. I know my life would be more productive if I did.
    It's a hard question, Melissa, but one I think we all need to ask ourselves.

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    1. I agree, J.T. The Internet is a mixed blessing and trying to figure out how to use it productively and not get sucked into its time trap is hard.

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  7. I've been thinking about this a lot, too.

    The most frustrating thing for me is that the internet makes it difficult to find common ground with others. It's so very easy to find a community of people who agree with one's opinions and worldview...and equally easy to stereotype, misconstrue and even demonize those with whom we don't agree. The internet fosters polarization in a way that face-to-face interactions don't.

    Also distressing is that, in virtually every controversial discussion, many people refuse to agree on even basic facts. Each side spouts studies and statistics that support their own view, and ignore or dismiss ones that don't. Then the name-calling starts. And there's no accountability for being uncivil. I find that just reading the comments after any news article makes me dispirited and depressed.

    My only answers are to limit my time online; try to be open to other points of view; take everything with a grain of salt and not believe everything I read; and most of all, always remember that people with whom I disagree are good people with good intentions.

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    1. You said it so well. There is an element of polarization that definitely exists - so much easier to insult someone when they are just an image on a screen.

      I also like your last thought: "always remember that people with whom I disagree are good people with good intentions." This is so true and something we ALL need to remember.

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  8. The last few days have been soul sucking, for exactly the polarization Christine mentioned. Some of the people I know on facebook are really well behaved in real life, but for some reason on FB they have no difficulty expressing their views in a hateful and intolerant manner. It leaves me feeling sick and sad, and wondering if our country will ever come together again.

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    1. FB and Twitter were getting pretty awful there for awhile. I have no problem discussing issues if both sides remain respectful of the other, but for some reason, the Internet makes it VERY easy to spew hate and venom at the other person - probably because we don't "see" the other person as an actual PERSON - just a name on a screen.

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  9. It's such a different world for us, and our kids; two of mine eschew FB, as do I. But it's a part of daily life in one manner or another, just as the internet has replaced newspapers and the nightly news in my life. Then I became disgusted with the election reporting, and gave up the news for Lent, earlier this year. Except for sports, I have *mostly* kept to that exclusion, and I'm so glad I have.

    As a writer, it's a strange to line to tread; some of my plots are very tied to current-ish events. Not Twittering or FB'ing might curtail access to readers. But I have never felt called to engage in a lot of social media; blogging is different, in that I consider that another form of writing. Or maybe I'm just kidding myself.

    A great post!

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    1. I really like blogging - I've just pulled back from it a lot and do more connecting on Facebook. But I still love to be able to read and compose nice, long posts that enable me to really say what I want to say. Maybe I'm just too wordy for Twitter! LOL

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  10. Great points as always Melissa!

    I agree with you about how it can all be soul-sucking and mind-numbingly draining. It's interesting because I first joined Facebook as a college freshmen when it was open to just college students at certain colleges. It was a lot different then. Oddly enough people really were on there to connect with fellow students or friends at different schools. Now it's something else completely different. It has it's good and it's bad. I have cut back significantly on my personal account and try to deal just with History By Zim stuff, but it's hard to cut the nosy habit of seeing what everyone is doing or the crazy things they are saying.

    I think the main problem right now is the lack of respect people have for others. Especially those who don't share the same viewpoints. The internet has now become an ugly vessel to "anonymously" (or not) spew their disrespect. It makes me sad and, at times, angry, but with the good unfortunately comes the bad.

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    1. Agreed, Jess. The lack of respect is phenomenal and incredibly sad. I don't know where it will go from here...

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