Without sounding like a Luddite, I have to agree with Lady Gaga’s sentiments she made on a late night talk show recently when she stated that social media is the “toilet of the internet”.
But when I got to thinking about this statement more, I realized that it isn’t social media itself that is the problem... but something attached to social media platforms...
The comment section.
This seemingly innocuous section of many internet sites and platforms might have good intentions, but in the end it creates most times an echo chamber that produces vitriol and disrespect instead of dialogue and mutual understanding. I mean if the internet’s purpose is for information, rather than connection, then it’s a wholly unnecessary piece; but if the internet is meant to connect people, then this piece is vital for well... connection.
So how do we live in a world where we desire to connect and to learn and to dialogue with others?
I don’t have easy answers for that. I think that as humans there will always be limitations and shortcomings about how we interact, especially with something as seemingly unemotional or un-soulish as the internet.
What I can say is just some sort of “stream of consciousness” about how I deal with this section of the internet:
- I take everything someone says with a grain of salt. I don’t take things personally, especially if I don’t know the person personally.
- I don’t even pay attention to any comment that denigrates or disprespects someone. I don’t have tolerance for unjustified hatred.
- I try not to read sub-responses to comments, but primary comments only. I won’t get sucked down the rabbit hole.
- I only try to read the first few comments, not hundreds or more. I got other things to do.
- I try not to comment unless I’m willing to deal with everything that comes my way with the thickest of skin. I won’t sacrifice my mental health.
- If I don’t want it said to me, or I can’t say it to someone in person; I won’t say it on the internet. I’m not a coward or a hypocrite.
- If necessary, I will ignore altogether.
To realize that it is unwise to throw the baby out with the bath water is key to understanding this topic. The internet has revolutionized our society and has made much of our lives simpler and better. But the internet is not perfect. There is a lot of damaging, hateful stuff out there. So one must have wisdom to know how to handle it. This post, I hope, is just one piece of that collective wisdom.