THE beauty of the internet and social media is its ability to bridge the gap between physical and social distance and allow you to connect with your friends and even random people anywhere. It is possible to have real-time conversations and swap jokes with friends on the other side of the planet. You can quickly see what they had for lunch or dinner, or where their family went to spend summer vacation, or read their thoughts about this or that issue.
It’s also great for self-expression. Introverts like me can now get things off their chest by just writing “out there” without feeling the need to confront anyone in particular.
But like all things in life, that beauty also has an ugly side. The impersonal nature of the written word makes it easier for people to spread hate, anger and fear, whether intentionally or not.
I used to get into a lot of online arguments before, particularly when I was trolling religion and politics. I would get into very active arguments with this or that person. I would post sarcastic replies to random people who would also shoot back, and there would be a back and forth firing of replies until one of us got tired of it, or until another topic appeared and stole our attention.
Winston Churchill said “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks” and Mark Manson said, in less elegant fashion, “Most of us struggle throughout our lives by giving too many f*cks in situations where f*cks do not deserve to be given.”
Perhaps I’m just getting older. The younger me had more energy, was more curious and experimental, and probably also more conscious of what people thought and said about me. I thought I ought to sound off on each and every issue, and each remark I made ought to be “liked” and one in which many people agreed.
These days though, I don’t really care much. Not that I don’t care about what’s happening around me, but I have decided to focus on what I care about most -- education. As Manson (again) says, “We all have limited number of f*cks to give; Pay attention to where and who you give them to.” I am beginning to feel that limit as I begin to slide off my mid-forties and start the slow march towards the fifties.
The more time and energy I give to other causes and issues and whatnot, the less I have for my passion. So let the dogs bark. I’ll just ignore them and keep going straight where I want to go.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.>