I have had a quiet break from writing these articles for a while, and pulled back on my use of twitter. Partly this was because it is my busiest time of year, and partly because I just needed a break from the modern art of mudslinging.
Twitter was an amazing place when I first got involved. It was a platform for sharing ideas, sharing thought provoking opinions, and keeping up with what everyone else is up to around the world. But something has changed. Changed dramatically. Now it is all about whose side you are on. And this isn’t just twitter, this is society in general. Whose side are you on? If you are on the opposing side of a discussion, politics, sport, religion, pretty much anything, then apparently, we can’t be friends. While this has always existed to a degree, taking sides has ramped up significantly with the ever-growing use of social media.
A number of my friends, clients, and associates have left social media recently. Simply because it isn’t a pleasant place to be anymore. It isn’t a place where you can be yourself, for fear of being on the wrong side. It is a fake world, where people pretend to be something they aren’t, to be happier than they really are, and where you can freely mount personal attacks on anyone, who you don’t agree with. It’s shit, and it is wreaking havoc on our society.
There are plenty of people who disagree with my opinions at times, as I do theirs, but I’m here to tell you that is ok. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and neither should you. In fact, we shouldn’t all agree with each other, that would also be unhealthy for progress and growth. But sitting behind a keyboard does not entitle anyone to get personal when they don’t agree with them. I heard a great saying from someone the other day that went something along the lines of -
“no one said any of this stuff when there was the risk of a punch in the mouth. Now that they are out of reach, hiding behind a screen, everyone is suddenly so much bolder.”
– Source Unknown
My greatest realisation is that twitter in particular was exposing me to people that I just wouldn’t normally associate with. Now that can be a fantastic thing, and has been. It can open your world and your mind to so much more than before social media. But it also means you can find yourself hanging out with people you wouldn’t normally. It’s a bit like being in a pub, and one of the guys says something fairly insensitive or derogatory that is only designed to cause trouble, and you quickly realise that he isn’t worth being around and move on. Except in this pub, the modern Twitter pub, it is seemingly more and more difficult to find conversations without any of the deliberately confrontational and personal rubbish.
If you realised your local pub was now being overrun with people constantly trying to pick fights, and either your old friends were starting to join in, or didn’t go there anymore, then what would you do? Stop going. And so that is where I am at, as are many. And it is saddening to think that something so good, and so useful could now be so frustrating.
But it’s not twitter that makes me sad. This is bigger than twitter, or facebook or Instagram.
This need for everyone to take sides, and be left or right, religious or not, vegan or a carnivore, climate change denier or climate change activist, is bigger now than it has ever been. The media, marketing organisations, governments, and social media are driving this “divide and conquer”, “fear and hate” culture, and the losers in it all are us. The everyday individual, and the general desire to be better and to make progress.
The desire to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday is being eaten away by a need to take sides on absolutely everything, and tear down the opposition. Forget about tall poppy syndrome, that is long gone. Now we just pick a side of the field, and cut down every bloody poppy we can on the other side.
Think about how you interact with people in this modern world we live in, and if you don’t agree with someone, that is ok. If someone doesn’t agree with you, that is also ok. Have a healthy discussion, so that you can both increase your understanding of the counter argument, and then change the subject and find something else that you do have in common.
People can, and should disagree on things, but it doesn’t have to be about vehemently taking sides, anger or personal attacks. It should be about gr
owing knowledge and perspective.
Be the future that you want.