I don’t want this post to turn political, because then I’d be causing the very thing I’m noting has changed, but it occurred to me today that either I’ve gotten much better at unfollowing anyone who posts dramatic political links to Facebook, or people in general have stopped posting things beyond normal status updates. Trump has been indicted four times, and I don’t remember a single post about it appearing anywhere other than . . . a rogue Twitter post, perhaps?
On the one hand, this makes me very happy, because it really felt like social media was just making everything worse, especially over COVID. The thing that was supposed to be connecting us all together was instead making it easier for everyone to be angry with each other. I don’t know about you, but that’s certainly not why I signed up for a social media account in the first place, so yay for that.
On the other hand, I tend to think the reason these posts have stopped appearing has something to do with the fact that people no longer feel there’s much point to it. Or maybe that’s just me projecting onto the rest of you. I used to write a fair number of posts on hot button topics, mainly because I thought writing something might do some good. I haven’t had the desire to do that in quite some time, as I have a hard time picturing something I might say that might make anyone think differently than they already do.
That is . . . not so good.
It’s not that I want people arguing pointlessly, but I definitely don’t want everyone just ignoring each other and no longer listening to anyone who might disagree with them. But when disagreeing with someone gets you labeled with a mean word and then unfriended, it makes total sense that people would just stop talking. In any healthy relationship, you need discussion. If a couple clams up and just starts ignoring certain aspects of their lives, that’s usually a big red flag.
Do I have a solution to this? Maybe. I definitely don’t want a return to people bickering with acquaintances or flat out strangers online. That does no one any good. But we need to get back to how things were like before social media and text messaging. Get back to actually talking to people. Face to face is ideal, but I’d settle for Zoom or on the phone. We need to get back in the habit of being friends with people who disagree with us, even on important issues.
Some of this feels like I’m a technophobe yelling at people to get off my lawn, but if you know me, then you know I’m anything but anti-technology. It just feels to me like we’ve really struggled to connect again at the same level that we did before COVID. It’s like we all built little silos over those months, and when we could come out of them, we decided that they were actually much more comfortable, and why bother. Or, again, perhaps that’s just me. I try to think back on what I did pre-2020 and compare it to what I do now. Is there anything appreciably different? I can’t honestly tell.
Do any of you have thoughts or observations on this? I’d love some other reads.