Monday, 18 April 2016

People are going to assume this is about them, and that it's passive aggressive.

I want to talk about something that bothers me so much about people on the internet, on social media, and on Facebook specifically.
I read an article the other day talking about how people are sharing less about their daily lives on Facebook. While I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, I do think it is symptomatic of a number of things -
- We refuse to see that "drama" is a part of life. Pretending that conflict does not exist does not make it go away. That's naive. Everyone's lives have drama. It's the interesting stuff that punctuates the boring bits. Drama is not inherently bad, but can be taken to a bad place. People associate drama with negativity, which only happens half the time.
- We accuse those who share parts of their lives that may not be happy or good of starting the above-mentioned "drama" - and we often make it about ourselves. Humans really like to create their own narrative where they are the centre of the issues, and everything is about them. It is normal and natural, but few people realize it, and thus it is hard to catch or redirect. If we reacted with logic instead of emotion, we would see that 99% of the time is actually has nothing to do with us, and that person is talking about something completely separate from us.
- People read too deeply into something that has been said, and attribute it to being "passive aggressive" without asking for clarification. We are all guilty of this, because many people dislike conflict and shy away from doing anything that may cause it, even if it makes sense to do. It's all because we are taking the major part of communication out of the equation - body language - and trying to extrapolate what we think the meaning is without asking for clarity - and it usually ends up being wrong.

- People target people specifically. That is not okay. If you have issues with someone, talk to them directly. Don't go through some third party or spend your time smearing their name or vaguebooking. It's not productive, and the end result is pretty much the same at the outset, except you end up making people angry.
- People get angry when you talk about something good that is happening - they think it's bragging. I think a lot of people measure their lives against the filtered version of what we see online. It's an inaccurate way to determine success and should not be a barometer of how you live your life. Be happy for the successes of your friends - they should be happy for your successes. Bitterness and jealousy is natural, but that doesn't mean it's good to feel that way.
- People share terrible/bigoted/racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic things all the time. Look, no one wants to hear that you're afraid of trans people peeing in your washroom, or that you think men are being subjugated by women. You're posting these things, but you're alienating half of your audience.


All of these things have led to people being gun shy about talking about anything online - people immediately jump down other's throats and start stupid fights over nothing, and unfriend and fume. People talk, but no one actually communicates. Communication takes work and respect for the person you are communicating with - which is hard to do when half of the conversation is throwing a shit fit over the misinterpretation of what was said online. Stop, take a breath, and react logically. Remove the initial emotion, because it's almost always a false reaction. Think about what you know about the person before you jump to conclusions - would they really write a coded message talking about being pissed off at their terrible commute on the bus as a passive aggressive way to jab you for having to cancel plans, or maybe did they just have a really leadfoot bus driver on a crowded bus where someone stank like BO, and maybe someone grabbed their ass? Did you ask? Did you express concern, or did you launch into the 'well, jeez, sorry I had to cancel, Miriam, but I had to pick up my kid Juanita from ballet kickboxing which is something you would understand if you had kids, but I guess you need a man to have kids first, enjoy being frigid ' first?
Look - I think if someone is bothering you, you should talk about it. If something is happening that is awesome, you should talk about it. Talk about the interesting thoughts you are having about the political spectrum or how angry all those commercials with the starving children or sad homeless animals and Sarah McLauchlan music make you (because they make me angry, I'M WATCHING LEAVE IT TO BRYAN, I DON'T WANT TO SEE SAD PUPPIES GODDAMNIT HGTV). That is what social media is for - to connect with other people. While I think that prudence is something that should be exercised online, and not everything belongs online for the masses to consume, I also think that it is pointless to use social media if you are not using it for it's intended purpose.

Share the cat photos, share pictures of your kid or your dog, share a funny 'tumblr' thing - but let people know how you're doing too. People friend you on social media for you. Just try and keep in mind that we all need to communicate as much as we need to talk. :)

And now, a cat and a watermelon. You're welcome.