I have managed to avoid Facebook for a few years (after deactivating my account and not looking back) but was convinced earlier this year that I need to join the world of social media if I want to spread the Mums who Study message. So, I went back on Facebook and started a Twitter account.
It’s been going fine on the whole but yesterday I remembered why I don’t like social media. For the very simple reason that it exposes you to things you can generally avoid in seeing in the real world with a bit of common-sense. I don’t like blood and gore so I avoid situations where that is likely to cross my vision. I even once had to wrap my son’s hand up and drive him to my parents’ house down the road so that my Mom could examine the extent of the injury. I don’t watch tv shows or movies where I will see that type of thing and I rely on the mainstream media to advise me when something like that is coming-up.
So, I avoid blood and gore. If I see it, I find it gross but I usually try to think of something else and then the whole scenario is over and done with. But other things that I generally try to avoid are somewhat more difficult to escape now that I am on Facebook. I am talking about stories of child abuse, family violence, child murders and that sort of thing that tends to linger in my mind despite my efforts to get rid of it.
I am also having to deal with being exposed to people’s opinions that I find genuinely offensive. These are comments that they make on other people’s posts, photos they put on their own timelines and so on. I am sure there are ways of turning off notifications or adjusting news feeds but it all seems like a bit too much hard work.
The worst part is feeling compelled to join in the debate and making comments of my own which just fuels the debate further. It is time-consuming, energy-sapping and the result is I feel more annoyed at myself for getting tangled up in it.
I am all for healthy debate and constructive conversation. One of the best things about being an academic is being exposed to, and challenged by, diverse and differing opinions and ideas. I am certainly not afraid to be on the receiving end of constructive debate and I actually enjoy the challenge of a robust debate.
But at the moment Facebook is proving to be more of a source of annoyance than anything else. The comments/posts some people make are not only offensive and stupid some are outright dangerous. I don’t want to be a part of it. In real life I wouldn’t walk past someone who needed my help or keep quiet if I saw something wrong. I have to stop and involve myself. The same type of thing has been happening to me recently on Facebook and I am annoyed at myself for getting caught up in it. Fortunately, Facebook isn’t real life and I am free to avoid the situation all together.