At this time of year, many people tend toward one of two extremes: Charity and understanding or contempt and bitterness. For those that tend toward the latter, I think the holiday season makes some people quite literally crazy. The stress of holiday events, traffic, and family tensions can definitely take its toll.
In a decidedly unscientific approach, I believe that I have observed this phenomenon in the social media posts that I have casually observed over the past few weeks. My personal Facebook news feed contains a blend of both uplifting posts and downright negative rants. To be sure, the current political season and climate is fanning the flames of negativism on social media. To me, it hit bottom when I noticed a particular politically-themed post (not unusual) that someone had shared, and though it elicited a few comments both pro and con, one particularly negative post contained two “f-bombs” as it declared the original poster and all supporting commenters to be a–holes, before ending with the phrase, “Have some respect.” I call that irony – and I’m sure that it’s totally lost on the foul-mouthed commenter.
How did we become so jaded, so mean-spirited, and so presumptuous – at least in our social media activities? It’s enough to depress someone who is trying to enjoy the holiday season and spread the good cheer. A while back, I posted about the potential personal liability of what we say and post online. The natural knee-jerk reaction is to begin policing all online comments according to some set of standards, but the freedom of speech and expression of ideas is the cornerstone of the Great American Democratic Experiment. The animus that I see online and in the news that is directed at people simply because they post or say something that others find offensive, is, well, offensive. (More irony, I suppose.) What ever happened to decorum? What ever happened to civility? What ever happened to respect? Can’t we have just a little more peace on earth (or at least on Facebook), especially at this time of year?
For the good of my own holiday state of mind, I think I’m going to take a social media holiday for the next few weeks. Perhaps, if we all did that, we’d rediscover some of the manners and mutual respect that we seem to have lost as a society. Are you with me?
[Editor Note: I’m serious. I will be taking a holiday break from this blog and most other social media until after the 1st of the New Year. I wish you and yours a peaceful, safe, and love-filled holiday season.]