The age of social media & personal attacks….is this society as we now know it?

il_340x270.1112764778_35cpI have touched upon my reservations after starting my blog at publishing my private thoughts within a public space, as I felt I was leaving myself open for judgement and wanted to shy away from that as I felt vulnerable and not ready to go into battle with anyone who openly criticised me for it.

I also questioned, that whilst I am clearly cautious of spilling my personal life into a public domain, is it hypocritical of me to allow myself to knowingly invite judgement as when you step into the world of blogging, surely you are leaving yourself wide open to judgement which won’t always be met with positive comments, due to everyone having different opinions.

I have also found myself even sensoring what I post on Facebook or Instagram these days, as I found that I was having to justify myself for sharing my private life & I have to admit, I was once a daily poster and used to share a lot, but I do not share anywhere near the amount I used to, frankly it was boring mundane rubbish, but also I have become aware of the way social media has opened us to another platform of airing our opinions and sometimes I have witnessed more so than not, some nasty fallouts from misinterpretations and comments aimed at putting people down.

Due to keeping things more private, some people have come to the conclusions that I am not seeing my friends as much, or I am more obsessed with my fluffy dog than my RugRats; point is, I am still seeing my friends, still doing things as a family, I just choose not to share it all as I am quietly cautious at how people are openly judging others for their online content on how they chose to express his or her views on any particular issue or topic.

In a world where we have information readily available at our fingertips, it seems to now be that it is becoming our downfall in society, as we seem to be disconnected emotionally from online content.  If you were in a healthy debate face to face with someone, I do not think it would be an intense angry face to a comment that you don’t agree with, resorting in a personal attack as you see so much online, by using sarcastic comments and vulgarities aimed at the other person.  You would hopefully listen to that person’s opinion, debate your own opinion and compromise, surely?  So why do we not see that happen online?

I witnessed an unfortunate series of comments made towards a lady on a Facebook page the other week, who was clearly upset at making the decision to rehome her pet.  She was bombarded with the most rude, judgmental and nasty comments I had personally had the displeasure to read.  People had personally attacked her, without knowing her backstory and even accused her of getting rid of the pet like it was a commodity to her and asked if she would do the same to her own children.  It was fuelled further by people liking these judgmental comments and I read in shock as I saw them play out.  What made these people think that it was ok to cast such asspirations on her, in an open community site, where you would most likely have to face these people in the “real world”, as we all live close by.  Some people I have spoken to made comments that also took me by surprise, saying she left herself wide open to be judged on the page by asking for help to rehome the pet, however, don’t we all do the same if we ask people for any sort of advise on these sort of community pages, and just because it was a pet, did she deserve the vitriolic responses she got?

I have found myself questioning whether it really is social media that is allowing us to be ruder, or have we always been as rude, but we see it more due to social media?  Discussing it on a night out with “him indoors” and he made me think further about it.  One thing he said and it has made me think, is it more prevalent due to the Thatcher era?  The “no such thing as society” mantra gave rise to the ” I’m first, me second and anything left I’ll have it” brigade who are now in their 30s and maybe a reason I notice it more as I am from that era.  I would like to think that we are not all like this, but what concerns me is that I am raising my RugRats in an era that appears to be producing people that have no social shame and unable to be emotionally intelligent or empathetic.

What is certain is that negativity spreads like wildfire on the internet, as I make of point of when I watched the negative comments role in on the Facebook post I mentioned and whilst the internet has the potential to open new doors for discussion of global news and politics; what is clearly evident is that it is a cesspool for insults and personal attacks. Sadly if you have an opinion, someone, somewhere will have an extreme reaction to it.  This is the key, it appears that we are seeing more extremist views as they are free to be aired on the world wide web.

Due to an unforeseen accident with my eye, I got to watch Loose Women the other day and they had a timely chat about how people are becoming more vitriolic with their online comments by opinions they air on the show.  They discussed how we can now, at the touch of a button unlike something, show an angry face or openly use aggressive language ranting their own opinions and putting others down for having differing opinions, believing theirs are better. Ruth Langsford raised a point that we hide behind the anonymity of the internet these days and we comment in anger and walk away, however, if you were in an open debate with friends, you would be more considerate and you would be open to discussion and debate and you might even change your opinion once you had listened to people.  This is the crux I feel, no one wants to listen to each other anymore, we all think we are experts on the internet and lash out without thinking intelligently or emotionally, and if we see this, is this an insight to someone’s true character, that would be personally sensored when speaking to people face to face?

Trolling is everywhere online — you only have to look at Trump’s tweets to see how normalised rudeness has become. And it’s affecting us in real life. After doing my own research I came across research that showed it makes us less creative and less effective at doing our work. What I feel more than ever, is that we need to start being a lot more respectful to each other and reevaluating how we communicate with each other, for the sake of our future children and no, don’t let people tell you that you are being overly sensitive, you have a right to set boundaries and you have a right to point out rude behaviour and make people think about their quick snap judgments made on your online content, as well as your real life.

So if you are guilty of  throwing insults without thinking about the consequences which you feel is emboldened with an emoji or hashtags like #YOLO and #JustSaying, do yourself a favour, think empathetically and try and connect emotionally, before you press ‘send’ and consider whether you would be just as passive aggressive and negative to the friend sitting across you, sharing a brew.