This is the First of Five articles for the Fanbros.com Mental Health week. Before continuing, I will say that this article was written literal hours before the mass shooting tragedy in Cleveland, OH(where I’m currently writing this) on 4/16/2017. The effects this has had on my city and myself have weighed on us and my deepest condolences have gone out to the friends and families whom are victims in this tragedy.
“Never argue with a fool. All they will do is drag the conversation down to their level and beat you with experience.”
Earlier this year, I disappeared for a while. I missed the travesty of an inauguration, the opening weeks of the country becoming stranger and overall the breaking point. That picture above is from the first day when I returned to see what was going on with my FanBros family. I would still text or call them, just because friendship between us is everything, but to see the new version of the fight they’ve been in is enough to make me forget sometimes that my name is unironically Mellow. But, we run our businesses through social media and we create a safe space for our fans to hold discussions with an open-minded forum. If we have to defend progressive intellectuals in the process, then that fight can be worth it.
But, after that long break, I had to keep asking myself: How did we get here? How did we get to this point where people wake up wanting to yell at you for citing a fact or giving an educated theory on a situation that’s thought out. How the internet has taken the form of this monstrous platform that’s a glorified chatroom where nobody wants to be wrong INSTEAD of the place we go to find facts and solid information. Because, to be perfectly honest, I’m not here to explain how or why people are idiots over social media. I’m here to make sure we all make it to the next day. So, let’s take a look at the usual suspects:
Everyone has a specific type of person they hate who makes an appearance on their timeline. Whether they’re racists, sexists, homophobes, narcissists, trolls, xenophobes, nationalists… the list is ridiculous and pretty much describes any villain you’d remember from an 80s teen comedy. But, there’s a great advantage we have over these aggressive fear mongers: Their perspective is blocked and limited. Because their intention is to box as many different cultures out of their social space, they’re only good enough to cherry pick whatever information is given to them from a distorted source. Even after winning, these people are still angrily lashing out and attacking anything that seems juxtaposed to their position.
And that’s because of the overwhelming fear of being wrong blocks any kind of victory. Even an employee’s boss, who has none of the issues I named as a usual agitator, can become more aggressive and lash out just for fears after making a major decision that can show they’re possibly bad at their job. It’s the feeling of not-knowing enough that you’re obsolete and then ostracized. Those who oppose those with these weak visions/agendas don’t try to get these people to admit their flaws or for them to give up. That is not in them. They simply take the time to be educated, cite reliable sources, expose where a person has made their irrational mistake and move on. Because then it will just turn into name-calling and venom-spitting to the point where it’s unhealthy for you. And if you’re not someone who wants to deal with people invading these spaces, a block and mute feature are simple clicks away, but the gesture that crushes people is a simple “Like” to the ones opposing them. The scary vindication of those who are telling them that they’re wrong.
By now, we all know that our most trustworthy and notable news sources are BBC, NPR, Reuters and The Associated Press. Their facts are raw, unbiased, cited, without opinion and update as more information becomes available. But, you will constantly see someone over social media use a false pie chart or line graph like they just learned algebra and statistics a few minutes before an argument, just to weaponize it. Alternative facts crumble. They are there to keep people in a constant state of ignorance and fear. These sites don’t survive fact checkers or verified filters, so there are people who simply exist in this negative bubble of lies who actually have to work to keep up this perception of the truth. Which is honestly kinda hilarious that hate is a full-time job for people who live in fear.
Turn on your filters, have a laugh and move on in your life. Shout out to Snopes.com for making this easier.
When A Friend Takes An Opposing Stance:
If only we lived in a time where it was as simple as two people debating over a sports team or their favorite Marvel movies in order from best-to-worst. But, now we’re arguing over fascism and progress. Now, we are arguing over who should have equal rights. And there’s no more surreal feeling than seeing someone you care about siding with the oppressor, but hoping that your status as friends remain. I’ve experienced this more than once and I’ll admit that I’ve taken more than one approach to the issue:
- I simply just ask for them to explain their point of view. And I’ve quickly discovered that no matter how simple this question or concept may seem, it can easily come off as an “attack”. I’ve had friends immediately take the defensive or some who flustered to an explanation or just try to deflect back to giving me questions. It’s hard to see and can dissolve the vision you have of someone you care about.
- I’ve admittedly been more passive aggressive when trying to see where a friend stands on a very crucial problem, by asking their opinions on articles or bringing up something that I’ve posted or vice-versa. It starts a dialogue or quickly ends ones. But, it brings up a conversation that is necessary to know if this is someone you still want to grab a drink with.
A lot of these people I have not deleted, because as an intelligent person, I want to know how some view the world that is counter to mine. I need to understand where there’s a middle ground and the easiest way is to do this with someone I once felt closer to. I can’t tell you which way to go on that opinion, but I will say that for your health, get the toxic people out of your Mentions and Timelines. Whether they share your world view or not.
Creating A Strong Social Space:
This is the entire point of FanBros.com and we are always striving to create a forum for people to discuss. Whether it’s sharing an article about what makes you want to succeed or get up in the morning. Or just a laugh at what’s so weird about the world today, we want you to know that we’re made of a staff, community and friends who have the same concerns and obstacles you do. The opportunity to relate is so necessary in social media and sometimes you need to take a moment to just reflect with someone who’s also looking for answers of hope. You may find it in one another. That’s exactly why we joined social media to begin with: Companions.
There are enough filters, structures and overall blocking functions to keep the negativity out. But, it’s also about finding enough good that it’s worth it. It should always outweigh the negative parts and if it starts to feel like it doesn’t: walk away. There’s nothing wrong with that. I went off the grid for most of this winter and found myself more focused and at peace. I needed time to remind myself of my own value and that I’m genuinely more than what any media outlet or comment section will ever say that I am. I gained my raw information from reliable news outlet and simply discussed topics with those around me. Even when returning from travels, I didn’t immediately turn my social media apps back on because I wasn’t ready.
So, my biggest suggestion of dealing with the weight of social media is to take the time to focus on Knowledge Of Self before jumping head-first back into a session that could ruin your day. It’s an addiction that can be both uplifting and toxic as you scroll. But, knowing who you are and how you feel about yourself makes every comment section in life obsolete. And I look forward to spending the rest of the week discussing how to get there.
Tell us about your positive and negative social media experiences on @FanBrosShow or in the comment section below.