Unkindness Online: Why I am Sick of Dirty Social Media

I woke up this morning feeling great.

One of my favorite comedies was on TV, my son started online learning on his own, and I had a great cup of coffee. Life was good.

But then, I ruined it. I got on Facebook.

The first thing I saw was that someone was argumentative about a post I made the night before. Before I knew it, I had spent ten whole minutes trying to tell them why their perception and how they responded was… well, just incorrect. Eventually, I decided to not only delete the whole comment string, but I blocked that person as well.

That act was something I never did at all until 2020. It wasn’t that the back-and-forth negotiation between us (them not budging in their beliefs and me desperately trying to share what was on my heart) was exceptionally hurtful or rude. It was just that I do not want or need that in my life.

The back-n-forth thread resulted in nothing but a reminder/proof of our current habit of jumping to conclusions and being judgemental. I didn’t want to give someone else a platform to share their twisted opinions that day or in the future. As long as someone new could reply, this thread of ugliness would continue.

If I had left the thread in place, I had no doubt that three months from now I would be back on that Facebook thread trying to defend my point to someone else who had come out of nowhere.

Trying to temper my frustration and focus on something positive, I kept scrolling. Our local public school system posted a really nice warm message during Thanksgiving week. All they did was ask what you are thankful for. The first reply was lovely. The second was that they are thankful that our Superintendent won’t have his job forever. Once again a kind message of gratitude was twisted into something I’ve come to call Dirty Social Media.

Here is the issue- you have a right to say whatever you want, but why? Stop being hateful. Post that message somewhere else. If you wouldn’t say something directly to a person’s face, it has no business being on social media.

The school’s message should have been a beautiful, feel-good message and conversation for all. Instead, it was quickly commandeered and changed into a lengthy back and forth exchange of why people feel it is their constitutional right to post whatever the hell they want.

Here’s the real truth:

It is your constitutional right to free speech, but what about your spiritual right, and moral right to be a good human? There are many other opportunities to state displeasure about something you do not agree with…but, on a Thanksgiving post? Seriously, now.

Read the room, people.

We have to get back to the old standard: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it. 

I have thought many times about deleting my social media altogether for this very reason. Not because of this one post or this one person, but because of the mood it projects on a regular basis and how it feels like we are all walking on eggshells every time we try to post and share something new.

There was a time when social media was a great way to stay in touch and keep tabs on what’s going on around us.

Now, it feels mostly nasty, negative, and plagued by angry people just looking to spew their opinion on whatever poor person they choose to pick on that day.  Being surrounded by negativity is NOT my jam.

I just do not have time for it in my life.

I do not live my life in this way.

I do not argue with people in my life- why should social media be any different.

I am not going to leave social media because I have made friends all over the world who I adore. I will not leave because I have HOPE that we will get back to the ways things were someday.

I recently wrote an article that was published in the Huffington Post about being the Black mom of a Black son about to turn 12.

I got hate mail out the wazoo. I did not reply to a single one. I feel really good about that decision now. There was no need to engage. I win.

If you feel compelled to say anything at all, I challenge you to reply #notcool and move on. Or better yet, just move on. Feed them nothing else to debate or attempt to look “liberated.”

My mother used to say, “Never argue with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

And that’s how I feel right now. Dirty. Crazy thing is, I woke up feeling great.

This Thanksgiving week I am going to challenge all of you to not argue with these folks: folks who really are looking to do just that–challenge YOU. Cut them off cold turkey. Facebook will not be as fun for them anymore. And maybe we will get back to sharing videos of our kids laughing and funny memes. We just do not have the time to waste. Plus it makes you feel really bad. And sometimes, we get pulled into arguments and, before we know it, we are being mean and hateful too.

That is really not us. Let their comments stand alone. Let the trolls be, and “don’t argue with the pigs.”

We are better than this. You and me. Let’s go into 2021 with a new spirit about social media. We will not waste another minute arguing. Let their comments stand like a monument as to who they are.

About Deedee Cummings

As a therapist, attorney, author, and CEO of Make A Way Media, Deedee Cummings has a passion for making the world a better place. All 16 of Cummings’ diverse picture, poetry, and workbooks for kids reflect her professional knowledge and love of life. Colorful and vibrant, her children’s books are not only fun for kids and adults to read, they also work to teach coping skills, reinforce the universal message of love, encourage mindfulness, and facilitate inclusion for all. Cummings has spent more than two decades working within the family therapy and support field and much of her writing shares her experiences of working with kids in therapeutic foster care. As a result, her catalogs of published books for kids are filled with positive, hopeful messages. Using therapeutic techniques in her stories to teach coping skills, Cummings also strives to lessen the stigma that some people feel when it comes to receiving mental health assistance.
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