Take a trip down memory lane with me. Not too long ago, I can remember when social media was a lifeline I thought I could never live without. I was meeting new people every day and organically becoming part of their lives, their story. There was no need for dating apps yet, as social media could conquer all. I loved it! I also, with a deviant smile on my face, can admit there was a phase where I was a total addict. It was the first thing I did every morning and the last thing I did every night. Many mornings I would wake up with my phone still in my hand in bed after falling asleep the night before submerged in the vortex of social media.
Midway between MySpace and the beginning of all other social media platforms, things dramatically changed. I look back to when Twitter was like that hot club that was always poppin’, filled with sexy, friendly people all having a good time with each other. Soon after that, it suddenly transitioned to those who have and those who don’t, the haters and the hated. A not so distant memory of Facebook was when the app was fluttering with amazing vacation photos, happy updates from friends with their pets, and the occasional announcement of a beautiful new baby.
Then relationship statuses, break-ups, political propaganda, haters and unnecessary ads derailed it. I started to go to Instagram for visually stimulating posts filled with sunsets, delicious food, and some of the best real-time sports updates. There was no way I could avoid my adoration for an app that with a simple double tap, a heart appears. I still think that is the cutest, and for that reason alone I loved Instagram. That love slowly faded the day I went from just looking at the photos, to reading the comments below.
In order to stay somewhat connected in my 40s, a time where it is easy for me to feel lost in translation, I make a solid effort to stay connected with friends much younger than me. Many of these friends are less than half my age and I consider them my young board of directors in my life. They have become pivotal in my survival when I need them to decode something for me. Usually, they provide an explanation that allows me join a conversation that I didn’t understand, or respond to an abbreviated text response that had me in a state of total confusion. Those friends also help me clarify tone and will explain why something may be happening on my timeline. One phrase that they say to me constantly is “Lisa, you must be doing something right if you have haters.” Their generation uses the motto “Hate is the new love.” This is one factor of the inside story of a new generation that I am reluctant to accept, to say the least.
In my verbal battle of resistance with their explanation, they’re incredibly entertained by my resistance to hate, as they lovingly call me “grandma,” or “old school.” I would gladly like to be the grandma, or an old school voice of reason when I declare, “Hate is NOT the new love.” Love is something we all want and need, while hate is neither. Hate is the blueprint for more negative things in the future. When all this became commonplace, I went from calling it social media to anti-social media. Even more entertainment for my young board of directors.
I will tell you this, they are observant. When they notice negativity around me online they always reach out to me and we have inspirational, positive conversations. So we have to give this generation credit and the chance to learn how much kinder things used to be. I can see the difference in all if them from our conversations, and most importantly, I have prevented them from ever being “that person” to someone else.
There are so many things about my childhood that are still relevant today. One is my dear grandmother’s voice always saying, “Lisa, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I can’t even count how many times in one day I hear that voice, but I always listen to it. Another is the fact that as a little girl, I looked at the television as my personal window to the world. I observed every little detail. I’m a product of the hit show, Beverly Hills, 90210. I knew I would one day be living in Los Angeles, CA, driving a convertible, walking on Rodeo Drive while drinking a smoothie.
I also knew I wanted to be a 1%. That was my focus. Of all the things I just mentioned, I’ve done. It’s who I am. But there’s one hitch: my existence in the world of being a 1% is not what you think. It is actually the 1% of the population on social media that is the most harassed, subjected to threatening commentary and while loved, very hated as well. I mean very hated. I find solace in going to the pages of all of my celebrity favorites and reading all of the hateful commentary they get on their posts. Sad but true, I have found that exposing myself to more shameless negativity makes me feel less alone. I am easily able to leave my own pity party in the dust and focus on the empathy I have for them as I read the comments attached to their posts.
For some reason some people lose themselves in the moment of what should be gratitude for the invited access we get into the daily lives of whomever we follow. A pre-game post from an athlete, backstage access at a concert, or a private moment with a celebrity family shared with all of us on social media tends to bring out the worst. Seconds go by after the post lands and the commentary that floods in is not pretty, as people verbally vomit all over their timeline.
Let me take it one step further by saying that certain celebrities have no chance at a rebuttal. If they reply or add negative commentary and offend someone, they see a backlash that can affect everything in their lives from present and future endorsements, to potential career opportunities. If they fall into the temptation of negative responses, they then have to backpedal and work towards forgiveness with whatever person or group they have offended. Their responses will be discussed on the news as if they had committed a crime, yet that same crime is committed against them on a daily basis.
The good news is that I have met some incredible people and made quite a few really unique friendships from my timelines. I have had lunch in other countries with people who, without social media, would have been strangers forever. So it is easy to see that I love what these outlets have allowed me to create. I can’t quit for that simple reason. Although I will be one to admit it has become more pain than pleasure, I can only predict it will get worse before it gets better. I do have a suggestion that I think could help. My dear grandmother’s words could simply save us all. Try it. When you are faced with the temptation to add negative commentary, say it to yourself. Out loud. I promise you it will feel really good. You will end up with a stellar timeline that will make you look as good as you feel. Let’s all just try to reel it in a bit and bring the sexy back to Social Media!
This piece was published by The Stashed March 22, 2016