I’ve found myself getting more and more frustrated using social media of late. Twitter, Instagram and I’ve all but stopped using Facebook completely. The services all seem to do more harm than good when it comes to their original intended purpose these days.
Outside of contacting people you actually know in real life. The platforms seem to be little more than people making hot (irony much) takes, daring anyone to question them, and when they do it turns into a venomous debate over said subject. Which might be the most pointless activity known to mankind.
It’s why I avoid interacting with people who post inflammatory statements as much as possible, no matter how much they irritate me. I’ve seen far too many people’s back and forths that, incredibly quickly, devolve from a debate about the point at hand, into petty insults and personal attacks. Mocking someone’s political stance, spelling or appearance in their display picture is not going to prove your point on gender representation within video games.
It’s a constant state of one-ups manship on display. Everyone wants to feel like the most superior person in the room, and when the room is one of millions, you’re probably far from the most intelligent person in the room. It’s part of the reason online debates are utterly pointless. No matter how important the issue, nor what’s being said, you’re never going to change the opinion of the other person.
Because, most of the time, an interaction between two strangers on the internet isn’t one of discourse, trying to express your views on a debate, it’s trying to deconstruct the 280 characters of the previous person’s tweet in a way that makes you feel wry, clever and superior to them, regardless of the meaning behind them.
Anyone who truly cares about the issues they’re debating on, should see when a person who comes at them is non-responsive to logic or remotely open to your side of the debate, then you should just stop responding to them, block them if necessary. It’s one of the worst things about the internet.
It’s such a huge scope of people, that anyone can search out likeminded individuals who share their closed minded and sometimes bigoted viewpoints and feel validated by them. That validation makes them feel justified in insulting or attacking someone trying to promote something like, women’s rights in the video game industry, or treatment of transgender people in pretty much any situation.
But the same can be said of the other side too. People who are in the minority build smaller, tight knit communities around themselves online. One’s which are unrelentingly positive in the extreme. Not that it’s bad to be supportive and positive to one another, but the result is, the more you’re bolstered up, the more you feel confident to reach out and broadcast your truth to a wider, more open internet.
Then, when the inevitable idiot lashes out, the person sharing, who exists in a place of non stop support and love can’t handle the response. And rather than just shut down the interaction or walk away from the situation, like you would in real life, the person enters into a wholly negative interaction which will do little to benefit either party.
I wish we lived in a world where everyone could accept one another for whatever they chose to be, but that’s not the reality we live in. And people who do exist in a minority, do themselves no favours by enclosing themselves off from the greater, nastier world. Having a thicker skin is a real thing, and while many people can effectively cut themselves off from that aspect of the world, it’s a damaging choice.
Let me give an example with some context though. Within the last few days #bowsette has taken over the internet. One in at least every five tweets I scroll though is a retweet of something with the hashtag, which probably says a lot of about the kinds of people I follow on the platform. Either way, I am loving it. It’s a combination of cute girls and impressive artwork that I’d thought everyone could get behind, it was when searching the hashtag in a vacuum I found the darker aspect.
A few people took this wholesome (relatively speaking) idea and started twisting it to match their mindset. I suddenly found a train wreck of a thread in which one person had taken an angry hot take at the phenomena as a belittlement of transgender issues. Other people angrily countered with claims that they were trying to drag down something they were enjoying and make it a problem where it wasn’t before.
Both sides were correct to an extent, also both sides sucked and needed to get over themselves. It was a bad situation all around. While I didn’t agree with the initial poster trying to make #Bowsette into some derogatory thing it wasn’t, the reaction was almost wholly unacceptable too. I wanted to say something, but the realisation that, as a heterosexual, white male. My opinion is worth less than nothing when it comes to a debate on social media.
I am the patriarchy embodied, thus the problem with the world from a certain point of view. So my words are instantly worthless. Which is fine, it’s just a reinforcement that I shouldn’t waste my time and energy in such debates online. Literally nothing I could have said would have helped either side anyway, so what’s the point of even involving myself.
Which isn’t me promoting apathy when it comes to important subjects. But as I’ve already, painstakingly explained, entering a debate with a stranger online is an utter, utter waste of time and energy.
Ultimately, the social aspects of 90% of social media is non-existent. It’s nearly all one way traffic, people of influence announcing things from up high, occasionally replying or retweeting to a single, lucky individual who so happens to catch their eye. but it’s never real social interaction, it’s just a small shard of recognition from someone they, presumably, look up to.
The more I interact with social media, the more I want to remove myself from it entirely. But I can’t, it’s like a drug you can’t get yourself off for fear of being out of the loop despite the fact that I personally never feel like I contribute anything to the grand scheme of things. I’m not out to find that pithy remark that gets me thousands of retweets and my 15 minted of fame. I want to have a meaningful, if brief, social interaction with like-minded and interesting individuals.
And that’s just not what social media is anymore.