I’m tired. I’m so, so tired. And I bet you are, too.
2020 has been rough for every one of us in different ways, and every time we think things are looking up, a new issue takes hold, wearing us down and dividing us even more.
Though this isn’t a new problem, as people have and will always find things to disagree about, we now have social media to contend with. And, in case you’ve forgotten, this is an election year, which means social media will just keep getting more exhausting over the next six months…
As I’m sure you’ve experienced, everyone on social media is an expert. *eyeroll*
During a time when most of the world has been staying home and isolated, social media has become the primary way to stay in touch with others. But being isolated has made us more irritable, more frustrated, and more stressed, making social media a dangerous weapon of volatility.
Tensions were already running high before the death of George Floyd – people were fighting in grocery stores, arguing about social distancing with family, debating the merits of mask-wearing, and going after politicians for damaging the economy. People were already tired.
When George Floyd was murdered, the world erupted, and as people began protesting and rioting in the streets, everyone took to social media to share their thoughts.
Suddenly, every person in your “friends” list had a long post about racism, white privilege, and #BlackLivesMatter. “Silence is violence” pushed (forced) those who often remain silent to speak up, and everyone stepped forward to explain exactly how to fight racism. Anyone who dared to state #AllLivesMatter was torn to shreds, and name-calling and hatred overflowed.
Compassion and Grace
Now, I want to make this clear – this post is NOT about political views or racism. Period.
This is a post about the way we treat one another as humans on the internet.
This is about how EVERYONE has had a rough year (in different ways) and how the mental health in our nation is suffering.
No matter your color, privilege, socioeconomic status, or health condition, we’re all humans, and love, kindness, compassion, and grace has never been more needed.
Again, this is not about politics – you can argue that sometimes violence, anger, or rioting is the only way to make a statement. But right now, I’m talking about social media and the way we talk to each other as human beings.
Whatever happened to admitting when you’re wrong? Whatever happened to being willing to say “I don’t know?” When did everyone decide that people are no longer allowed to have opposing opinions? And when did people stop checking sources and thinking about all sides of an issue?
I’m Not an Expert
I’ll be honest in saying that I have very strong opinions – I’ve always been that way. And I’m very aware that many of the things I believe are controversial and unpopular opinions.
But you know what I don’t do? I don’t post on social media calling people idiots if they disagree with me. I don’t unfriend people who have extremely different views than myself. I don’t roll my eyes and lose respect for someone just because they endorse a specific presidential candidate or leave their house without wearing a mask. And I don’t pretend to be an expert on politics, racism, health, or parenting because I’M NOT AN EXPERT.
I’m tired of being told what to believe, what to support, where to go, and what I “need” to do. I’m tired of being addressed with condescension, because clearly I’m not smart enough to know what’s “right”, and you obviously do. I’m tired of hearing “we should do better”, “you can’t say that”, and “you must not really care.”
I’m tired of hearing that we’re not taking something seriously enough, while at the same time hearing that we’re just sheep playing into a bigger conspiracy.
I’m tired of being told that if I don’t post on social media, that I’m part of the problem. I’m tired of posting on social media, only to be talked down to because my opinions aren’t “right enough.”
I’m tired of people posting something on Facebook and adding “please unfriend me if you disagree.” If you post this, I am unfriending you, whether I disagree with you or not. If you can’t stand to be friends with someone who might have a different opinion or life experience than you, that’s your loss.
Many (if not most) of my friends on Facebook have different political views than I do. My news feed is filled with stories and news articles and memes that often go against my personal beliefs.
But rather than curating my social media experience to be an echo chamber for my own views, I use this to learn and grow as a person. I read news stories written with a different bias than my own. I engage in discussions with people who vote differently than me. I get to see the lives of people who live in different places and have different priorities and privileges.
Aren’t You Tired, Too?
I’m tired of the condescension. I’m tired of everyone knowing the only “right way” to do things, and accusing those who disagree of being a danger to society.
I’m completely exhausted from decision fatigue. Everything feels like a life or death decision at all times, and I’m worn out by trying to weigh options without ever having enough (true) facts. I’m bombarded daily with the “new” facts, and every time I turn around there’s a new way to do things.
I’m just SO TIRED.
Social media doesn’t need to be a place where we only share the good things – we can talk about current events and politics and the things we struggle with.
But social media can’t only be a place filled with social justice warriors, health “experts”, and perfect parents waiting to attack.
I ask you, as we head into the second half of the year, to use social media for good.
Between all the fighting and name-calling filling my social media feeds, I’ve seen some truly amazing things in the last few months. I’ve seen thoughtful stories of kindness and love. I’ve read incredible testimonies that have led me to reevaluate my own beliefs. I’ve read great, respectful discussions filled with helpful resources.
Those are the things that have had the greatest impact. Those stories and resources, shared in a helpful, non-condescending way, are the ones that have motivated me to grow.
If you’re reading this and still think I’m suggesting that “Facebook isn’t a place for politics,” you’re completely missing the point. Share your beliefs, your opinions, your ideas! Just do it with compassion and grace.
Before you go to share something on social media, think twice. Is this something that could be one-sided? Is this something that could start a great discussion? Is my commentary humble, or did I act as an expert in a place where I may not be?
After all, there is always someone out there with a different life experience than you. There is always someone who will see things in a different light. Even if they may disagree with you, have you still given them a safe place to share their thoughts, or will your post be viewed as so hostile that people are afraid to engage?
I fear that social media (especially Facebook) has become so stressful that, unless we change things now, Facebook will die with the upcoming election. Many of my friends have already taken social-media hiatuses in the last few months.
Treating others (especially those who disagree with you) with compassion and grace is hard. It takes effort and practice, and no one gets it right 100% of the time.
But before you share a post or a meme, or tweet at someone, or start a debate in the comments section, remember that there is someone else on the other side of that computer screen. There is another human being who is tired and hurting in some way, just like everyone else, who you can choose to treat with love.
You have the power to show others compassion and grace. You can choose to show others kindness, humility, empathy, and respect. Rise above the negativity and hatred to be a light in this dark world.
Don’t contribute to the death of compassion and grace.