Saturday, July 11, 2015

the world wide web: it brings out the best and the worst in me

I've been thinking a lot about the role the internet plays in my life.

On the plus side, I've connected with hundreds of women that share my hobby and formed close and lasting friendships with some of them. Because the world we are immersed in online is the same, we connect at a different level than I do with people I meet locally. We chat regularly on social media and message boards about the ins and outs of the creative world and follow a lot of the same people. I see pictures of their life and their craft until I feel truly connected to them.

This had added great value to my life. It has brought me tremendous joy, many love filled moments and comfort in knowing I truly belong somewhere. In the online crafting world, I am among people who "get me." It's safe to say that I like myself the most when I'm with these people. I am, in part, who I am today because of my time spent online.

Now on the minus side (if I'm being brutally honest), I have spent too much of my life in a passive, sedentary state, reading and responding to people. Connections were formed but one cost has been that the people around me (live and in person) seem less appealing because they do not "get me" like my online friends do.

Of course, I am blessed to have a few crossovers: people I connect with online that I regularly see in person. When I'm with those people, I get the best of both worlds. I went out with a new friend, Chasity, last night and we talked non-stop about things we've seen online lately but then we shopped and ate and laughed and had a real connection. It was bliss.

That bliss has become a standard that's hard for non-creative people to live up to and it often keeps me from forming new friendships. I really have just realized this but I'm trying to decide if I need to work on that or if it's just something that can't be helped. I'm sure people who are runners really connect with other runners. Chefs like to talk to other cooks and foodies. A bass player and a drummer can relate over rhythm. This is how I am with crafty people who are immersed in the creative industry. Truthfully at this point in my life, I have so many friends that I can't find the time to hang out with them all so why would I want to add someone to that list? I realize that sounds selfish but God has blessed me with an overload of friends and for that I'm truly thankful.

Another negative is that sometimes the internet brings out the worst in my attitude. I'll be rolling along, having a lovely day when all of a sudden I see something gross, violent, gut-wrenching or idiotic posted on social media. I feel emotions whirl inside of me and then I make a choice: do I say something or move on? 99.9% of the time, I move on and say nothing. I rarely post a political or social rant and I rarely tell someone off even when they deserve it. But then the feelings evoked still reside in me and must be dealt with. They leave me with a bitter taste for life. I really didn't know there were so many crazy people in the world until I started reading comments online. I used to think people were basically good and kind, with a moral compass and understanding of right and wrong. I no longer think that. In fact, the more people I meet in person and online, the more disappointed I am.

How did this world get so far off track? I do not understand it. People start blogs for the sole reason of criticizing, judging, mocking and tearing apart people who just are going about their life and being themselves. People follow other people on social media solely to criticize and curse them. My biggest problem is the way people speak to each other. I noticed this on a popular message board, way back in 2001, when I first started spending a lot of time online. Under the guise of anonymity, people hurled their most hurtful thoughts and opinions. I am positive those same people would never have looked me in the face and said those things (I could be wrong) but online, they let it fly. I think it empowered them somehow. For the first time in their life, probably, they could say exactly what they thought with no repercussions and no accountability. That was 14 years ago and it's one million times worse now. Every day, I see curse words and revolting images that are shared thousands of times.

It begs the can we separate the bad from the good online so we're not filling our minds with negativity? I believe it is affecting us as a society. We are lacking in social grace and manners. In many ways, the internet has done us more harm than good. It's brilliant, engaging and amazing but it's also dark, dirty and harmful.

I am making a more concerted effort not to click on articles and posts where two sides are arguing and I'm unfollowing or unfriending all those who share revolting images, videos and words (that they somehow are amused by). I know that's harsh but it has really begun to get to me...this negative whirl of information being slung at me every day. God must have been thinking of the internet when he added this verse to the Bible.

I've got to reign in the negativity so I'm going to try and spend less time online, make the time I do spend more productive and positive and get out in the world with my friends who bring me bliss and squeeze them even tighter.


Unknown said...

Beautiful post and verse. I too am disillusioned by the public, and try to stay away from all of the negativity. I bite my tongue (fingers) and move on....most of the time. It is that 1% or less of the time that I am at my worst. Thankfully, however, I step away from the keyboard.

I don't know why we as people have gotten so bad and am not going to spend time trying to figure it out. Too much to do in life and too little time :).

Hang in there and keep being a beacon of light...I'll be around to cheer you on!!

Keely said...

Thank you for being "real". Life is too short to deal with negativity and meanness.

Sammie said...

Thank you for posting this Tracie. I agree wholeheartedly. I believe what the bible tells us about Satan gaining more and more power as time goes on and it is easy for me to be sad about it, but then I remember that those of us who truly walk with Christ will be rewarded for going against the grain of society. I find myself thinking of Matthew 7:13-14 often and it gives me some peace. - “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Kelly Sroka said...

Great post! I identified with so much that you wrote. I am always much happier when I am with other people who share my interests--scrapbooking, horses, or homeschooling. I became disillusioned with people in general a long time ago when I realized that most people are only concerned with themselves. I found this to be true even in group settings when the welfare of the entire group should have been the priority. And I agree with you, social media has just given these people somewhere to hide and spew their venom. Thanks for being such a positive person!

Debra said...

Oh, yes! Unsubscribe, unfollow and stay away from the unsavoury stuff - I totally agree. And it has to be intentional for sure. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it all.