The Great Courses

Anti-Social Social Media

The Thinking Atheist
Jun 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM
5 years ago


Sometimes, I look at my personal (Seth Andrews) Facebook page, browsing the rampant, incessant, high-volume assertions, accusations, stories, blogs, links, videos, statistics, messages, agendas and graphics, and the din is deafening. 

I'm an activist, to a pretty great degree. I host a radio show, produce videos for and host the community of The Thinking Atheist. I speak frequently and very publicly about religion and the need to reject it. That work gives me great pride and fulfillment. It keeps me sane. It gives me perspective. And I hope it would provide positive things for those who participate here.

But I'll be honest with you. Those that fill Facebook daily with, literally, dozens and dozens of variations on:

1) Screw (religion) 

2) Screw (political party) 
3) Screw (any other group) 

...they make me weary. 

X is stupid. X is retarded. X is insane. X must be supported. X must be stopped. X to sign this petition. X can go @#$ himself/herself. Post after post after post, the user shouts at throat-shredding volume in a desperation to be heard. 

Sure, it's important for us to raise consciousness, encourage debate, challenge sacred ideas and institutions, etc. But when did we become so suffocatingly preachy that our use of social media became anti-social, little more than noise, a blaring bullhorn so irritating and continuous that, regardless of whether or not the message is legitimate, people long ago tuned out? When did we become the car alarm that everyone ignores?

I've dealt a lot with the activist temperament. I get it. To an extent, I live it. And sometimes it's healthy to unleash the whirlwind and see what the dust kicks up. Sometimes it's good to get angry. To express outrage. To draw attention to an injustice. To defend a credible worldview. To defeat a poor one.

But I, for one, also want to use my social media as a pleasant distraction. To connect with others positively. To smile. To laugh. To see and share the good stuff that should be a part of all of our lives. I want the clever videos, the laugh-out-loud WTF photos, the anecdotes about people's lives, the family pics, the meaningful things that make life good. 

Corny? Sure. I'm a teddy bear. I'm also a guy who thinks it's important, even imperative, to occasionally put the kibosh on all of the bombast and bullhorns and instead think, say, do and post things that go beyond the metaphorical middle finger. 

All you activists out there, I salute you. Just don't forget to be a person instead of a platform. 25 agenda-driven links a day doesn't tell me you're passionate about change. It tells me you're probably lacking balance in your life and you apparently have wayyyyyy too much free time.

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes a sniper bullet approach is better than the shotgun. And sometimes it's time to stop the full-scale offense and take some pleasure in this world.

Fight the good fight. Just don't forget to enjoy the good stuff. 

{bracing myself for the backlash} - Seth

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