©2020 MJ Ostrander
I saw this meme last week. ‘You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to tell me what mine must be.’ I blinked a few times at the convoluted logic. Nobody has ever told me what my point of view must be. What could have prompted this post? The poster has the right to freedom of speech. Who was this meme intended to affect? Did this individual share an article published by a yellow journalism site? Were they hurt when someone had the temerity to say the facts of the issue did not support that point of view? After all, ignoring verifiable evidence is trendy across the five hundred and ten thousand posts per minute made on Facebook.
I confess I have little empathy for those who get lambasted for spreading rumors or half-truths. This practice accounts for much of the emotional crisis that exists on social media. For example, an individual on Facebook who lives in the US posted a Breitbart article that claimed it was not climate change but arson that was responsible for the savage devastation of the bushfires in Australia. Breitbart. As it turns out the ‘arson’ was verified by Australian officials to be small grass fires or blazes caused by lighting flames in garbage burn barrels, resulting in minor damage. Not responsible actions given the circumstances, but arson? No.
As someone who lives in a state prone to annual forest fires, where plumes of smoke of unknown origin on the horizon could mean horrendous destruction and death, uppermost in my mind was the needless additional anxiety brought to bear on Australians who read these rumors picked up by numerous news outlets. All this because someone has the need to express opinion by proxy that climate change does not exist.
Have we lost all ability to recognize that the right to speak our minds should always be tempered with prudence? Do any of us have the right to broadcast misinformation that could cause others emotional harm? Do we have the right to lessen the pain of our personal problems by publicly burdening and manipulating others with them? It seems practicing boundaries is always the other guy’s responsibility. When did sensitivity cease being a laudable trait? Are people who abhor images and words intended to horrify for horror’s sake, somehow abnormal? Are those who believe that the path to a better world starts within each of us deserving of contempt? To those who feel my stance is unbearably politically correct I cordially invite you to bite me.
These were some of the questions and internal evaluations that prompted me to distance myself from social media. The platform is disingenuous, and the smallest truths have no welcome on it. Six months ago, I made a promise to myself I would stop my practice of emotionally abusing myself by spending time in a place that’s harmful to so many people. These days I have returned to creating art, reading more, practicing meditation, replacing negativity with productivity and of course, writing.
In their 2019 third quarter investor relations statement, Facebook described its ongoing purpose: “Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” Seldom has an organization lied to a more greed infested group of investors and vanity infected clientele.
Social media is the antithesis of social. The addiction is over for many like me. Its level of relevance in and impact to my life now ranks somewhere between taking out the trash and defecating.
“From this point forth, find me nowhere,
Just on the back porch, without a care
And without a screen”
― Eric Overby, Senses