Maybe it’s just little overly sensitive me, but social media seems to have been even more toxic than normal in recent days. And by normal I mean the nasty, angry, hateful place it has been for some time now. The land of the rampaging troll, where faceless, vindictive keyboard warriors wreak havoc and inflict untold harm every time they hit the tweet or post button. It’s a jungle out there.
It’s a return to the days of the baying lynch mob who marched to the castle walls with burning torches whenever they felt the need to vent their ire. Extremists on both sides of the political, religious and cultural spectrums have been sharpening their pitchforks and are now released on the rest of us. Seems moderation and tolerance are things of the past. Sitting on the fence is no longer an option.
Words like ‘cancel culture’ and ‘woke’ are overtaking ‘Covid’ and ‘Brexit’ as the buzz expressions of 2021. The middle ground, where courteous, constructive debate should flourish, has become a no-mans/womans/persons land where one step out of line and you are effectively condemned to the dustbin of life, your career and reputation in tatters at the hand of the online judges, juries and executioners.
I’m now no longer comfortable expressing the mildest of opinions on Twitter for fear of being torn to shreds by people who don’t know a thing about me outside of the 280 characters I have just typed. The politically correct police now patrol the internet, their teeth and claws sharpened, thirsting for the blood of anyone who dares have an opinion that slightly deviates from their own.
People think in black and white so much more now. There appears to be a lack of nuance and context. Words such as ‘maybe’ and ‘possibly’ no longer are welcome and the art of communication has become a one-way street. A very noisy one-way street where horns are honked and give way signs ignored. There is no more ‘after you’ as it’s all ‘me, me, me.’ Debate has been replaced by irate and they who scream loudest and longest invariably prevail.
There’s a lot to be said for the old line that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason. Active listening seems to be a dying art. Many are now so entrenched in their values and opinions that they would die in a ditch rather than entertain an opposing view. Many are so angry that they are not being listened to that they fall into exactly the same trap. Hypocrisy is rife in the lands of the supposedly free.
So what do I do? Delete my accounts and adopt a Luddite existence? It has its temptations. I can walk the dog, call into the village and make it safely home without some stranger running up to me, screaming in my face and telling me I’m wrong about every single thought I’ve ever entertained in my miserable, sheltered existence. But if I do so am I giving up, taking the easy option in walking away?
It’s a hard call. There are many pros to being on social media. It can be informative, illuminating and fun. But the darkness is creeping ever nearer and now infringes on my little corner of the internet. Life is challenging enough without walking on eggshells every time you dare to pop your head above the parapets. I want to be entertained not eviscerated. Being so angry all the time must be exhausting.