I have been reminded on a couple of occasions this week about what it means to live life virtually. And for someone who works within the realm of social media and the interwebs, I freely admit to being an online junkie. By the same token, I would much rather spend face to face time with those I love rather than just FaceTime - but if it is a choice between not having contact, or being able to yarp to those I care about as much as I like, whether they be across the country or across the world - as I have said before, then take me to your iLeader.
Sometimes the phantom menace that is the wonderful world of the web does show its not so pretty side. I am not so naive as to think this shouldn't apply to me; Facebook isn't nicknamed Facestalk for nothing. And if I don't want to invite commentary on my comments, on whatever form of social media I use, then realistically I shouldn't be on there in the first place. I also accept the whole 'oh I can't believe you went to that place on that date without me' aspect of people knowing exactly where you are at any given moment in time, because hey, that's what you sign up for.
It ain't a private world, people.
But there is a limit.
Gossip has existed since the first caveman walked blinking out of his furs and saw his neighbour furtively carrying his third neighbour's woman off by her hair. It's the way we are. We thrive on it. Social media - hell, any kind of media - wouldn't exist without gossip. It could be said that gossip makes the world go round. Certainly common sense doesn't, otherwise we would all be living in peace and harmony and people like Kim Jong Nutbags would go up in a big puff of smoke.
People love gossip. Scandal. It's ace. Dissing what people are wearing/doing/seeing. There's nothing better for the self-esteem than seeing someone make a poor fashion choice and feeling superior about it. But once the scandal simply becomes mud-slinging for the sake of it - well, then it becomes a whole different story.
I am as guilty as the next person (unless the next person happens to work for TMZ) of enjoying looking at bad outfits and thinking about how much better I look in clothes. But do I like tearing people apart when they are in a state of distress? No. Similarly I don't see what pleasure someone can get in attacking someone's opinion in a way that is not about the opinion, but about the person.
I have to admit that what I am seeing at the moment on various channels is scaring the hell out of me. The amount of vitriol out there, and a simple lack of respect for other people's opinions is overwhelming. Everyone has a right to express themselves; but just because you don't agree with someone else, does that give you the right to stomp all over what they are saying in a way that is truly unkind, rather than informed debate?
I go back to my comment about perhaps being naive. If I want to get mad, I don't tend to do it publicly. I try very hard to keep grudges (except against certain sporting figures who just keep walking into it) private and personal. If I make a comment on social media, I think about what I am saying. I am by no means perfect at this, but I try to consider what I say in terms of how it will affect those who read it.
Maybe that's all it comes down to; a bit of a pause between brain and keyboard. Because you can delete at will, but the words once written never really go away.
That's the trouble with webs and nets. - they are, after all, designed to trap things. And personally, I don't like the idea of being a virtual bug. One ends up being eaten.