I don’t like contention. I don’t like stirring up strife. I actually really dislike the fact that I’ve always felt strongly compelled to stand up for what I believe in. I know a lot of people love a good socio-political discussion; I do too in many ways, but it tends to make me feel like I might develop the trots (annnnnnd I was a Political Science major…).
Yes, I experience lots of inner turmoil. Surprisingly I have yet to develop an ulcer.
To be honest, I don’t believe the human heart was made to withstand the limitless barrage of opinions and verbal diarrhea we’re exposed to today thanks to social media and 24/7 news access. The world is a complicated place, and constant exposure to the worst of it is unbelievably taxing, it’s confusing, in a lot of cases it brings out the worst in people.
Social media and media hyperbole have probably done more to contribute to America’s culture of fear than actual world events.
Clearly I’m guilty of it. I opine on social media (I am aware that I’m doing it right now…). I know that social media gives normal people like you and me a voice, our very own forum to discuss issues that are relevant and pressing.
While I hate it in many ways, that’s exactly what I love about it.
But I’ve also felt emotionally drained on a daily basis simply because of constant exposure to everyone’s (and their mother’s) opinions (yes, literally your mother’s opinion…I’ve gotten in political debates with friends’ moms on Facebook…). It’s emotionally exhausting to constantly feel the need to validate your beliefs to others, to yourself. I find myself crafting my responses to people’s status updates all day long in my head, even when I have no intention of actually responding to them.
Maybe I only feel that way because so many of my views run counter to the current uber-loud, uber-popular political leanings; whether I’m scanning headlines or trolling my newsfeeds, I can’t help but feel as though I and nearly everything I stand for are personally under attack on a consistent basis. And that drives an involuntary need to respond, which causes anxiety, as do the time and emotional investments required for the responses to the response, which tend to lead to even greater anxiety…
Trials and tribulations of the modern era.
I guess I’m simply saying that sometimes I just want to mindlessly check my Facebook feed to see pictures of your cat or your latest gym selfie without hearing your thoughts on the “Muslim Ban” that’s not actually a Muslim Ban (see what I did there?)…
I’ll admit, in the last several weeks I’ve begun “unfollowing” newsfeeds. It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s only that I feel like I’m drowning in your sea of political rantings and ravings. I want to hear your opinion, I do…just not all the time, and not at times when I don’t want to hear them (like when I’d rather just see your gym selfies…).
How do we keep ourselves open to hearing others’ opinions without being completely overwhelmed by them? It’s one thing to consider an opinion or two, it’s another to be bombarded by 8,000…
I’m asking because I haven’t figured it out yet…
But I realize this makes me a hypocrite, because when I have something to say, I would appreciate it if you would hear me out (although I know I’ve been unfollowed/unfriended by a whole slew of people…I get it…I ain’t mad at ya).
I guess that’s the beauty of sharing our thoughts on the interwebs…we have the freedom to hear who we want, when we want.
Let me be the first to say I’m not close-minded. I swear. I’d actually love to have a face-face discussion with just about anyone on just about any topic. But there’s something about discussing politics on Facebook that gets me extra sweaty and irritable…
So try as I might to burrow inside my hole of isolationist seclusion (I think I’ve deactivated my Facebook account about a dozen times…), I keep coming back to the fray because I believe our voices matter. And social media, whether FB or Insta or a blog or whatever, is the most realistic place to have our voices heard.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what a friend of mine told me a couple of weeks ago, that turning 30 was a turning-point for her; she’s since become more secure in her own convictions and has quit caring what other people think of them.
My voice might be small, but I’m beginning to realize that when tossed into the collective things get pretty loud.
If we’re not willing to speak up, who will be?
So while your en masse opinions might be annoying, I realize that mine are too. But it’s better that we speak up than say nothing at all.