I’m finding it magical that Bloganuary prompts are parallel to what I am experiencing in life. The next book on my reading list–and it will be on my front doorstep TODAY–is “Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Account Right Now” by Jaron Lanier.
I actually closed up my Facebook account a few days ago. I didn’t go as far as “deleting” the account because it has a Memories section, and there are almost 10 years of wonderful memories, in both photographs and words. It also has many links to articles I’ve written (I store the best on Contently, but even the non-epic ones are important to me).
People tell me I’m the one they can depend on for a compliment and that I see the beauty in everyone. It is true. People tell me their most wonderful secrets, like a weekend trip to Paris, because they know I’m not a jealous person and I’ll be happy for them. Seeing all these things on social media — friends/family having success and happiness, learning about gigs/events I want to go to, learning about new bands….The lists of positives is endless.
But then there is a downside. And it’s darker than anyone who isn’t on social media can imagine.
First, let me say, I never wanted to be on Facebook. A high school friend convinced me way back in 2010. Okay, I reconnected with a few old friends, but then didn’t hear from them anymore, even after we met for lunch a few times. It seemed silly to “follow” all these “friends” that you didn’t communicate with anymore. Their head shots on the bottom of my page made me think of deer heads on a wall. No rhyme or reason to it. I deleted the account.
Two years later, I wrote my first book and was encouraged by a client, whose book I was copy editing. She said, “You have to be on Facebook. You can promote your book in a big way.” She was right. My first book made the most money, until my fifth one came along and I received a cash advance to write it–a writer’s dream!
For the next several years, I enjoyed Facebook. Then they started adding more bullshit to the mere “thumb’s up.” Now you could “like” something or you can “LOVE” something by clicking on the heart button at the bottom of each entry. But you can also be angry or sad about something. (This worked well if you spoke about death. Who would give a thumb’s up to death, right?)
But then the “laugh” button. The most annoying of all. People misused it the the extreme. It was great if something was really funny, but it was used more in a condescending way, like if someone disagreed with your political stance. This, to me, was extremely childish. It was now awkward sharing views on the internet. No matter how diplomatic you would be, that ugly laugh button popped up. I’d rather have someone tell me I’m talking through my ass than to ever see that laugh button again!
A few years ago, I unfollowed all news on Facebook (and in general) as it was too depressing. For every feel good story, there were at least 10 bad ones. I did everything to make Facebook enjoyable, because face it, if you’re not on Facebook, you might as well not exist. Friends and family no longer call you for funerals. You have to catch the info in the Facebook feed. That never sat right with me, but when in Rome… So I unfollowed every page that posted negativity. I “hid” friends/family who spoke too much about politics. I only followed spiritual, animal, music, and vegan pages. It “worked” for awhile. I was able to use Facebook as a positive tool.
But then, over the weekend, I was innocently watching a video on The Dodo, via Facebook. The Dodo is a You Tube channel that shows happy stories about animals. Most often a hurt animal is rescued and has a positive ending. Not this time. I happened to see one where a woman was teasing a cat to get it riled up in order to be promoted by The Dodo to jack up “likes” on her Instagram “modeling” career. SHAME ON THE DODO!
This woman made it sound like she was a wonderful cat mom but this cat did not love her. It was a big joke. She teased the cat, put clothes on it (most cats hate that), and put while the cat was riled up, she held it in front of children and the cat took a swipe at them. This was not good news.
This woman had the cat since it was a kitten. For anyone who knows animals/pets–it’s up to YOU, the trainer/owner to make the cat behave. You don’t taunt animals. Good cat owners may take in a new cat or kitten. The kitten or cat may hiss in the beginning, but they come around with REAL LOVE, thoughtful training, and lots of patience. If the cat is still hissing at you, many years later, you are instigating it.
I stand by this. I am a certified feline behaviorist. Do not argue with me. Watch a few Jackson Galaxy videos before commenting. You will see how wonderful an “evil” cat can be. (Evil with quotation marks because cats are not evil, only people are).
So back to The Dodo. I made the mistake of writing to them that video was a fail. Why promote a woman who taunted a poor animal just to get Instagram success? This is not cool and never will be cool. Would it be okay to do this to a child?
While I got almost TEN THOUSAND likes for my comment. I got a backlash from people who hate cats (and animals in general). Nasty, cruel, despicable comments! One after the other after the other.
As a spiritual, happy person who sees the good in (almost)everyone, I was astonished how horrible these “people?” were. I was sick for three days thinking about animal cruelty. Who wanted to drown the cat. Who wanted to strangle it. Who wanted to slap it in the nose like a puppy. And who wanted to poison it with catnip 24/7. Oh, and how clever/funny they thought they were.
One by one I began blocking these people so I wouldn’t ever see there negativity again. When someone trolls on the internet, you shouldn’t engage with them. But the hate comments continued to a point it was impossible to keep up. And I didn’t want to keep up anymore. I was DONE. I just let it go, stopped looking, and said to myself, “You’re fighting with yourselves, I’m no longer on here. You’re your own victim. Your hate is killing you.”
Katy Perry once told a contestant on American Idol not to read negative comments. “It’s poison,” she said. She is right. Sadly, social media brings out the beast in people. And I can’t help but wonder–why? What possesses people to troll? Are they mad because of a failed relationship? Are they drunk? Are they depressed? Are they on drugs? Why are people so cruel on the internet? The answer is, because they can be.
While bad comments are unavoidable, especially for a writer–who hasn’t had a bad review?–you don’t have to put yourself right in the fire. There are other internet places to voice your opinion, like WordPress or Linked In, where the backlash won’t be so insane because it’s a more intellectual environment, for the most part.
So in order to get back to who I am, to my peaceful, zen-like (with a little sass) personality, I needed to get away from Facebook. To make it official, yes, like a flight attendant I announced my departure. I let everyone know because I followed many people I care about and wanted to keep in touch with. Off Facebook.
Three days later and I realize I am missing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
What is your experience with social media? Share your comments below!
I look forward to reading this book, which will reiterate that I made the smartest decision.
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
She is the author of the following books:
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You
Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: https://eroticbooknetwork.com/product/love-cats/