Nice Weather Today Isn’t It? or How I learned to Socially Survive the Political Seasons
Yes, like you I have a social media account or two. Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace are the three I’ve experimented with I still don’t tweet or snapchat. I’m mostly a Facebook man – I’m still working out what part of my life LinkedIn fits in or what it’s actually for. I think it’s a ‘Facebook for Business’ but I don’t like being ‘sold to’ on the internet – in as much as I can avoid it. One receives a request on LinkedIn to become some total strangers ‘link’ and if you agree, the next thing you get from your new friend is some kind of sales pitch for whatever business they’re in. OK so, I avoid LinkedIn a lot. (Though I do like the pile of ‘endorsements’ of my skills from people I’ve never met, worked with or communicated with!)
Myspace? I don’t even remember my password or user name or anything much else about it; back in ‘06 or so I created an account to keep up with my teenage high schoolers, then when the world seemed to pick up on Facebook around ’07 or so, for those same reasons I joined that too.
In the beginning it was great… super great in fact. For one reason or another due to scheduling I’d never even been to a high school class reunion and now here were many of the people I hadn’t seen in years from high school, college, or even jobs I held 30 years ago right there on my screen! Here’s where Life had them nowadays, there were photos of their children and not just classmates but family members who had moved far away were now just as close as they’d always been. Facebook was cool I felt socially complete.
Little by little it all began to change almost as soon as it began. My old friends and I discovered we have some very different beliefs even though we grew up next door to each other, our fathers had the same type of oil refinery jobs and our mothers all stayed home and kept house. We came from the same mold yet our minds and beliefs had significantly diverged socially and politically.
In due time I insinuated my friends were lost in the past and ignorant, in return they declared I was off-the-charts insane and didn’t possess enough brain power to even rise to their level of ignorance! I haven’t made a social media ‘political post’ since about this time four years ago. I realized no one would change my mind and I likely wasn’t going to change anyone else’s. Though I stopped making political posts – I would still comment on others on what I considered to be their over-the-top-nonsense – and that practice has gotten me deleted and blocked from some kids I’ve known for over 50+ years. These virtual arguments – I call them Social Media Sizzle and I was about burned out from it all. I’ve never deleted/blocked anyone but I will unfollow you for a while.
But because of my intense interest in the world around me – I didn’t eliminate my account or run away I just changed the way I view social media and the kinds of things I post or enjoy reading. Until the election is over – I have ‘unfollowed’ quite a few friends – but I still like them, I’ll hug them the next time I see them as I know many of them personally and politics will not change the way I feel about them as a person – I just don’t want to be tempted to ruin their day with my particular brand of biting sarcastic wit!
Here’s a few tips I think will work for anyone who wants to stay on social media but not be in a political fight/discussion and social media burnout all day long the next 30 days:
1) Be friendly – humans are social creatures, we want to be connected this is quite normal actually. Just post something friendly and benign if you will. When strangers meet face to face in an elevator often the weather is a topic. Comment about what a beautiful day it is today and see if your friends agree.
2) Put up pictures of you or your family/friends doing friendly stuff! A day at the beach, park, lake, a child’s birthday or a retro-throwback photo of yourself that may not be all that flattering but will make someone else smile.
3) Don’t correct others spelling or grammar. If a person is, say 42 years old and can’t distinguish between ‘to, too and two’ your snappy rejoinder isn’t going to ‘learn them now’.
4) Don’t let others new car, fine cruise, or beautiful home and seemingly perfect life get you down. Posts are just a snapshot of a person’s existence. They may look perfect but their snail-mail-mailbox is likely just as overstuffed with bills as yours is and their dog has puked on their new carpet at some point.
5) Let it Be. To quote The Beatles, just let it be. Take your social media off your phone for a break and limit yourself to home viewing, or limit yourself to five minutes at a time and don’t get hung up on anything or a particular subject. Just be cool.
After the election whether you ‘win or lose’ try to move on and not boast or ridicule the losers. Post those photos of your vacation in Destin, or your beautiful cruise or your overgrown jungle of a backyard (mine) and let’s get back to being social on this kind of media and move on past our social media sizzleout.
Also, unfollowing people now and then isn’t all bad – it causes people you haven’t seen or heard from in a while to start appearing and you reconnect with a whole other group of friends to catch up with.
Nice weather today isn’t it?