Thursday, 8 August 2013

[Gallery Post] Turning Disdain into A Chance for Growth

I have become increasingly disgruntled with social media, mainly Twitter & Facebook, and it's entirely my fault. With various issues increasingly in the public eye the time had come to start listening to a multitude of voices. In this spirit I cast my Twitter net further out to into the social media sea and latched on to those whose views I consider extreme, offensive, and not just play it safe with like minded folk whose views are compatible to mine, all in the spirit of "there's more than one side to every story". In doing so I have reopened my eyes to the ugliness of the human condition powered by fear turning to hate and violence in the digital and physical world. Essentially I had to relearn the unavoidable truth that letting the worse traits take a stranglehold of our hearts and minds brings out the most destructive side of the human race; we become arseholes.

Image Credit; Ivan PW

Let's face it when you see the ugliness of Twitter it is easy to be put off by the level of bigotry, abuse and outpouring of hostility, from all sides, that dominates your timeline. An inherent childlike "run home to mum" instinct invariably kicks in and suddenly you want have a follow clear out, kick out those who annoy or offend, and just keep the lovely folk. We all know who those are, members of the social media crowd who are our friends both online and in real life, public figures we adore or generally people who share similar values, philosophies and outrages. Of course it is the occasional sharing of other people's posts not to mention easily accessible public trending topics that reacquaint us with the increasingly adversarial online world. 

Social media is more than about sharing holiday snaps, posting amusing memes or moaning about the next door neighbour whose farts are so loud they can be heard in your own living room (true story). It can also be a unifying forum where even those with a minority opinion can be heard and engaged with in a way never thought possible. Surely this is the essence of a proper democracy. Yes some views are in contravention to others, some are even offensive and cross the line of voicing opinion in the spirit of free expression to direct threats of violence. Yet in amidst the heady mix of topical conversations, colourful metaphors, news bites, and petty arguments there is something hopeful in seeing people engaging on a global scale. 

For me Twitter and Facebook have changed considerably since I first joined in the crowd. My Twitter timeline in particular looks a lot different even compared to last year given my recent interests in more extreme and diverse personalities, or simply those on a different side of the fence. It has become uglier, more serious and I guess with that I have started to back away from it altogether preferring to stick to more user friendly niche accounts. If I want to truly write about real issues and add weight to my arguments, be it on social media, in this blog or face to face then it is vital to immerse in all facets of the human condition, not just the fluffy ones. A friend once said that social media can stifle growth and evolution but can also encourage it. There is a real danger if I choose to ignore only the bad stuff and surround myself with agreeable personalities then my writer's hand will go to sleep. A quote from Frank Herbert's Dune best expresses the turning point in which I find myself as a writer, as well as a global citizen and person of interest;

“A person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing you to grow. Without them, it sleeps- seldom to awaken. The sleeper must awaken. ”

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