Most of us know social media can be used for both good and evil, so this isn't specifically about the devil in the design. But it is a wake-up call about our behavior.
Social media gives us this ephemeral notion of power. With the click of a few buttons, we can change the course of fate. We can hurt people from the safety of our homes with a barrage of words we wouldn't dare say to someone's face.
I'm about to relate a story, because I think it's easier to identify with a problem when a story is attached. And although this isn't the most atrocious act from people, it's definitely one that has become commonplace.
Three "friends" on Facebook aka Meta de-friended me and, I believe, blocked me.
The first thing that happens when this has been realized is disbelief, right? Because the "why" question comes into play. We go back through recent history to see what we might have done to upset these people. Maybe we contact mutual friends, trying to find out the cause. "What did I do?" "What do you know?"
In this case, I know I did nothing inherently wrong to merit the de-friending, although believe me, my mind whirled with questions at first. But, I have done a lot of work on myself the last few years. I've discovered that someone's actions towards me is more about them and less about me. My intentions are always good and come from a place of caring.
I believe it was a situation where I have an acquaintance that they've had issues with in the past. I don't like to talk behind people's backs when they are not there to defend themselves. And I don't involve myself in the businesses of others when I have no reason to do so.
Now, the people who de-friended me...I have met their children, been to the homes of two of them, and have had heartfelt talks with all of them. I feel the level of relationship I had with them warranted at least a phone call to let me know what upset them.
But you know what's easier? Clicking that delete button.
Not only does that allow them to communicate with me that they no longer consider me a friend, but it gives them that false sense of power. I can't argue or defend myself. I can't ask "why"?
De-friending and blocking is a way to bully someone. Bullying is defined as harming, intimidating, or coercing someone who is perceived to be vulnerable. Angry with someone? Block! De-friend! Call your friends and have them do the same!
True friendship is based on communication and mutual understanding. This has, unfortunately, become a lost art. We used to have to put in the work to let someone know we were upset with them. Now, we just press a button. Good-bye.
The computer has become the most dangerous weapon in the world. And we have normalized the destruction it leaves behind. It has ruined families, torn apart couples, left people bankrupt. And although much is discussed in the media about abortion, guns, drugs...not much is said about the sneaky, underhanded things people do with keystrokes and selfish desire. Just like any weapon, the computer wasn't invented for mass injury and harmful intent. The harm is a side effect, because people are inherently emotional. And emotion is a tricky thing.
We categorize emotions: hurt, anger, sadness, happiness. A myriad of names. But feelings are much more intricate than words. They remain stuck in the brain, long after an incident has faded from memory. How we react to an event is dependent on what has happened to us in the past. Even if we are not conscious of it. Some of us work through those emotions alone. Others need people to feel it with them. But in the end, we become triggered and react to stimuli.
What we need to do is sit back and reflect. On our own. Without others who might motivate us to do something that we might otherwise not consider. I suppose we could first ask ourselves, "Does this person value me? Do I value them?" And then, "Does this person trigger me on a regular basis, even after I have discussed my issues and told them how I feel?" After going through this exercise, this might leave us with ten people who remain our true friends.
But our social media accounts contain hundreds, even thousands, of "followers" or "friends." Most people want to feel popular in that way we always wanted as children. Humans want to be liked. We are pack animals and enjoy companionship. I know, I know...some of you reading this will say, "Nope, I like animals better, I'd rather be alone."
Which returns us back to what I mentioned earlier about feelings and our reactions to negative events. If people hurt us, we no longer want to deal with people. But even though we feel this way, our complex brain structure, human biology, the reptile mind actually craves company. Talking ourselves out of liking people doesn't change the reality. So, we create social media accounts and add people we barely know and aren't even sure we like that much. We post pictures that garner "likes" and hearts. We share our viewpoints and defend our opinions, sometimes stating them as unsubstantiated "facts." We create small fires that either snuff out on their own or become too large to be contained. We do this from our livingroom. Because it's easy. It's fun. We're bored. We're hurt. We want to get even.
As for being de-friended...I'm at a stage in my life where I prefer to remember the good times, I hold on to the pleasant memories, I don't have energy for negativity. If they prefer to drop me without a conversation first, without us both working on a resolution to the conflict, they were never my true friends in the first place.
Society is dependent on the computer. In some ways, this has helped communities. But like anything material, the driving force behind it is human emotion. Without that, everything else loses its power. It's time to consider the ramifications of our actions. Instead of leaving the person you are trying to hurt asking "why," maybe you should be asking yourself that. I guarantee that the first reason you come up with isn't the honest one.