There are people I am 6 degrees separated from who comment on a thought on Facebook and I find it appalling that they can out themselves as racist or just plain selfish with such ease. When someone isn't looking at you eye to eye it is so easy to say stupid and ugly things.
The shocking part is that even after the dust has settled most of the thoughts get shuffled away into the "they're an idiot" category and then forgotten, unless there is the unfortunate occasion of having to see the person at a reunion. For me, those random, nasty diatribes are not pushed into a waste bin or hidden behind delete; they are floating in cyber space sullying our planet with more rubbish then we tote to the curb each week.
The people who are younger than I are jostling around with this newish playground, not really grasping the enormity of the ramblings they utter through their keyboard. The back and forth anonymity is like a game of truth or dare. The biggest, baddest, nastiest comments are the most interesting, funniest and outlandish, rather than the oddest, rudest and most horrifying.
When someone is standing in front of you and you happen to make an ass of yourself, the look on their face is sometimes enough to give you pause before continuing to behave as an imbecile. When that someone is reading your sloppiness, they can neuter themselves or laugh from far, far away; the shock at your behavior is tempered because they have a moment to separate themselves from what you have done.
Facebook would only be something to commend if we used it as a way to communicate truthfully. That would mean saying intelligent things in response to stupidity or standing up for the bullied and defamed.
I am a mom and I wonder what the hell we are doing today. I grew up around sex, drugs and rock 'n roll and old folks were talking about society going to hell and a hand basket. Is that what I'm doing? In answer to my question I see one big difference. FEAR. When everyone was doing, having and dancing, they were fearLESS. Now, with the social networking I see nothing but big globfulls of sheer terror.
Saying something out loud would mean that I might have to face confrontation or rejection. When someone writes something through my computer, I can hide my pain, horror, sadness; but if someone hurts me a foot away from my heart I cannot deny what I feel.
From experience I can say that feelings hurt a heck of a lot of the time. Most times confrontation is ugly and without resolve. Being present in front of another human being who is abusive and angry is scary. Standing still in a moment of someone else's freak show can make me wish for a tin shack in the middle of the New Mexico desert, with a long dirt road that telegraphs a visitor hours before their arrival. In those moments I wish for a loneliness that echos into the next century. When I shared that thought with a client she said,
"But they would come find you Deb. That's just not what you're supposed to do this time around."
That's just not what we're supposed to do this time around.