When I was a kid, if you wanted to talk to people far away, it was a big deal to make a long-distance phone call (because they were expensive). More often, a letter would be in order.
If you wanted the public to know what you thought about a particular topic, you wrote a letter to the editor.
Bullying and name calling were usually done face-to-face, or behind your back.
Spreading rumors and lies was done in person or on the pages of the National Enquirer.
Social media has changed all that.
You can “meet” new people online through social media sites and chatrooms.
Comments don’t need to be carefully thought out and sent via the postal service. They can be instantly attached to a news story or posted on social media.
It’s now easy to spread falsehoods with memes and links to “satire” websites with just a click.
In many places cyberbullying is more common than in-person threats.
For a while, social media was more of a place to hang out, meet new people and share news of life events.
But the hatred has crept in — and seemingly taken over on many sites.
I miss my early days of social media.
Not that I was an early adopter. I never had a MySpace page (although I did think about creating one). Instead I joined Facebook at some point early in 2009, I think. It may have been 2008. (I’d say I made the right call.)
Twitter followed for me in July 2009, and my Instagram posts began five years later.
Those three are the only ones I actively use.
My LinkedIn profile was created years ago, but I never even set up my picture until a couple years ago, and I’ve had a Snapchat profile for a couple years, but I only have five contacts and have never sent a snap. (I really haven’t found a use for it.) I also have created a Pinterest account, but was lost on how to use it.
There are a ton more I haven’t touched. WhatsApp, TikTok, Kik are foreign to me. So are chatrooms like Discord. I know they exist, but don’t ask me what they do in detail.
I am intensely familiar with Facebook and Twitter. I use them daily in my job, and scroll through each in my personal life.
And every day it seems to be more and more of a dark place. This is especially true on Facebook.
The hatred spewed at those who may think differently than another is absolutely horrible. Just take a look at any of our posts that even have a hint a political bent (and even sometimes those that don’t). The name calling from some people is ridiculous. Because we believe in freedom of speech (it’s kinda our thing), we allow people to have their say. We only hide comments when they are potentially libelous or are vulgar.
I also sometimes question, why people comment what they do when they do.
Sometimes, it’s obvious they didn’t read the link on which they are commenting because they are making an argument against what they believed the column or story was about, but it was, in fact, saying the same thing they are.
Othertimes, the comments are a total non sequitur and I wonder if they are commenting on the wrong post.
And sometimes, people just use any opportunity to spew their hatred … at us, at people of a different political mind, of a particular group of people.
It can get depressing.
I can understand why some people are stepping away from social media.
I can’t, because my job involves using and monitoring social media, but I may just spend more of my spare time searching cute cat videos on YouTube.
Denielle Cazzolla is editor of The Daily Star. You can reach her at email@example.com or 607-441-7259. Follower her on her infrequently used work Twitter account at @DS_DenielleC