I wanted to take a step back from fiery rhetoric to talk about something I’ve noticed lately on social media. People no longer speak for themselves. They post memes. They quote someone else. Sometimes, when pressed, they admit that they really didn’t look at it closely. This is especially true if the meme or quote is longer and more involved.
The internet has been with us for an entire generation. It has created a generation of people that have the bravery of being out of range. We can say things online we never would have said in person. People even created terms like “troll” and “cyberbully” to deal with the phenomenon.
Most of us in the older crowd spend our time on Facebook. The kids seem to love Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. I’m not on any of those platforms, so I can’t really say anything about those platforms. I’ll just speak to what I notice on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook in particular is great in that you can connect with friends and family you go years without seeing in person. You can see pictures and major life events and share in the common experience of larger events.
The current feeling I have came to a head when a friend clued me into something you could do with Facebook. It is called “snoozing”. Essentially, it allows you to ignore posts from a particular person for 30 days. It also does not allow them to comment on anything you post. How sad is it that Facebook has to install an option for people to be able to specifically ignore other people.
Yet, it’s sad when you know someone you love or like has become so toxic that it dampens your day when they post something. We immediately go back to our memes. The meme has become similar to the Gif in that quickly delivers a thought usually with a chuckle. It brings celebrities, animals, famous characters, or humorous situations and slaps on a quick slogan on for the quick laugh.
The problem with the meme and Gif is the same as the problem with the 30 second soundbyte. It doesn’t offer any context. Most issues have a context to them. They aren’t solved with a meme or a Gif. They are solved with hard work, deep thought, and careful compromise.
There can be no greater irony or microcosm of life than an attempt to snooze someone following the post of an inane meme. You can’t snooze your friend. It snoozes the poster of the meme. I’ve done it a few times. I don’t ever know anyone that originally posted the meme. So, I can snooze them, but that really doesn’t do any good.
The irony is that this mirrors the real life situation. The friend or loved one can simply claim that this wasn’t their meme. They were just forwarding it on. They didn’t create it. It’s not their responsibility. It doesn’t necessarily reflect what they think 100 percent. They just liked the sentiment and decided to share it. We’ve heard it all before.
Except, we are responsible for what we post. We are responsible for the tone we bring to the conversation. We are responsible for what is on our wall or on our Twitter feed. I can’t come at this from a position of judgment. I’ve posted stuff on my wall that was toxic. I’ve posted stuff on my twitter feed that was toxic. I may have even posted a meme or two.
So, here is my pledge. I will not post a single meme on my Facebook or Twitter feed between now and the election in November. I’m still going to speak my opinion. No one will ever stop me from doing that. Still, you will know that it’s mine. That way, if you don’t want to hear what I say you can unfollow me or snooze me. I suspect the more of us that do that the more respectful the dialogue will be. Then, there will be no need to do all of that.