Thanks XKCD

Some months ago I decided to remove almost every data in my Facebook account. Not because of the usage of my personal data (about which I may have some concerns but mostly don’t care) but to refrain me to go there except for events and the occasional use of Messenger as most of my friends aren’t on something else. I grew tired of the way we show ourselves on social medias, but mostly I grew tired of myself.

Some months ago, I realized I wasn’t myself when I was interacting with people through social medias. It was harder and harder to have grounded conversations based on arguments, and I tended to adopt the two basic reactions of human nature: fight or flight.

I was slowly getting tired of seeing several behavior in my social feeds. Being it anti-science arguments, anti-experts behaviors, constant fearmongering, … but mostly I grew tired about how we seem to have lost our capacity to just listen to other arguments.

Slowly I realized that there was simply no point in trying to discuss things on social medias. Slowly we all became activists for everything in our life. And the problem with activism is its inherent incapacity to listen to any argument going against itself.

But while on social medias I could easily avoid discussions, mask people, perfect my own little bubble, I realized that in real life, a flight or fight response just wasn’t possible. I realized that social medias slowly made me behave in a more agressive and nervous way in real life than what I ever was before. Therefore I decided to slowly cut the cord.

First I purged my Facebook account, then refrained my Twitter usage. Gone are the apps from my phone, but gone also is the stress they made me feel every time I saw someone post something “wrong”. Because I realized that those apps where the go to places I went every time I was bored. But I also came to realize that I was simply trading my boredom against more and more stress.

The impact of this is quite dramatic. I realized that I was behaving in a way I simply hated. But I also realized how people around me were acting on social medias in a way I abhorred.

I don’t know how we are going to evolve as a society, but seeing the constant violence on social medias, I must admit that I’m afraid about our democratic system. Sure we can all live in bubbles where there’s no “violence” (but do we realize how smaller and smaller those bubbles are becoming?), but this isn’t a way to build a society.

This isn’t a post against social medias. I don’t want to be a part of this group that constantly blame the tools. I think there’s something deeply wrong going with us and our ability to interact with other people. Sure our tools granted us a greater digital safe-space, but we are the one who decided to agressively attack any people with a slightly different opinion from our own.

A society is a set of shades, it’s full of colors, it’s not black and white as we tend to see the world. And while activists are necessary, we can’t build a society of activists. Such a society wouldn’t be a dream, but either a totalitarian nightmare or doomed to constant skirmishes.

There’s nothing great in attacking other’s people when they try to discuss and have a different opinion. There’s nothing rewarding in cutting off a discussion with a sassy meme. There’s no greatness in having +100 people blocked on every social medias as soon as they have a slightly divergent opinion. It’s time we calm the fuck down. It’s about time we slowly learn to live all together again if we still want to build something out of this world.

Simon Vandereecken

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