I’ve been reading a book by Molly Ringwald titled “Getting the Pretty Back.” Even though I was never a John Hughes devotee and Ringwald wannabe, I would have had to have lived under a rock to avoid her influence on the teenage landscape of the late 1980s. So when this book landed in one of my secondhand bulk purchases of book, I figured I’d give it a once over. I have been pleasantly surprised at how well written it is, full of humor and thoughtful observations as well. It impressed me enough that I even double-checked to make sure it wasn’t ghostwritten, and it seems to be all her own work. Good for you, Molly, it’s so great to see an actress who has more going on than a pretty face.
I reached a chapter in the book where Ringwald writes about e-mail and social media right about the time things blew up with the Confederate Flag Debate, quickly followed by the heartwarming (and long overdue) Supreme Court Decision on gay marriage. Naturally, Facebook,Twitter, etc. BLEW UP. For all I know, Tinder and Grindr were going at it, too, only in a much sexier way.
I stay out of “discussions” online that are about politics or religion. My views almost always clash with my extended family, and while I will happily give my views and the reasons behind them in an honest, face-to-face conversation, I won’t do it online. There’s just no point. Someone’s feelings will get hurt, things are taken the wrong way because there’s no such thing as a sarcasm font, and there’s lots of bad feelings that get put out there in a wholly unnecessary way when people write things online that they would never, ever in a million years say to someone’s face. So, I stay out of it altogether.
In Ringwald’s book, on the section about social media, “My Facebook Space Oddity,” she writes the following:
Social networking sites are meant to be light and funny and glib. They are a performance.
This jumped out at me when I read it, and I thought, “Yes, that’s it, exactly!” Those ideas had been in free form rambling around in the back of my mind, but I had yet to solidify the ideas. My social media performance is comprised of positive, funny, and/or uplifting items in my Facebook feed. I occasionally share things that aren’t all warm fuzzies, because I”m not perfect, but I try. Anyone on my friends list who routinely gripes and whines or goes over the top gets unfollowed. In a few cases, I have unfriended and blocked people. I don’t have room in my life, in this form of entertainment, for that kind of nonsense. There’s too much of it out there already.
I agree that everyone has the right to voice their opinion. The constitution protects free speech, but it doesn’t enforce kindness or common sense, which is why I have to set my own guidelines. Thank goodness I have that choice!
The mainstream media is often referred to as a circus. If this analogy is correct, then social media is a traveling carnival. The rides are thrilling, but also a little dangerous. There are curiosities, “freaks,” rigged games, highlight reels, barkers spouting out incorrect and highly stylized information, heightened emotions, teeming masses of thrill seekers, and the misconception that under the cover of darkness (cyberspace) we are excused from the mundane aspects of our daylight selves, including manners.
I doubt very seriously that anything I write here will change social media, or anyone’s perspective, I know that. It’s been proven that we all make decisions based on emotion, rather than logic, and then find the data to back it up. My emotional response to all that nonsense is that it feels bad and I have a choice in the matter, so I choose not to feel bad, and my logical response to avoid all that negativity is to shoot rainbows out my butt.