Social media has turned us into Ouroboros. If we read anything that invokes even the slightest emotional response, we have become accustomed to blocking out the ability to think critically and have started acting on whatever we feel in the moment. In the past month, I have witnessed digital mobs that have threatened young parents over the accidental death of their son, I’ve witnessed threats levied against the family members of someone who did something. I’ve seen cancer treatments paid for, I’ve seen tuition paid for—the digital mob swings both ways, but it swings like a door freshly oiled in the wind: wide and unpredictably.
It’s as if we have collectively forgotten that things do not happen in a vacuum. We are a species that have thrived on three tentpoles through out civilization: the use and development of tools and technology, the exchange of information between people, and storytelling. It’s like we pretend that people don’t tell tall tales anymore. Everything we read is factual and it’s only ever non-factual if you disagree with it; at which point, you just change your facts. No one cares enough about the truth anymore, and it’s why we’ve fallen to the place we have with our culture, media and leaders. Life in the north western world in 2018 is purely about presentation—extra points for style. Truth is a swear word, truth is an abstraction, and the farther we let the real definition of truth get from us, the closer to complacency we get. The easier it will be to accept the Matrix once put into place.
Now, it may seem like a big leap from Facebook mobs to the Matrix, but it all comes from the same thing. Think about the physical act of being involved in a “situation” on Facebook. You’re sitting on your couch, in your vehicle or even standing around at work, staring at the small glowing box that you carry everywhere. While you are completely inactive and staring, your heart is racing. You start to feel empowered, you feel strong because of your outrage. You heart begins to pump the adrenaline through your veins and you realize that you can actually do something to feel like you’re contributing to the situation, and you do it! You have barely moved a muscle but you’re feeling such emotion; whether it be joy, anger, sadness, remorse, hurt or motivation—you feel it. You feel it course through you because you’re into it, that is you in the moment. You believe it, and logically, will believe anything that makes you feel.
Big question, now that you’ve felt those feelings: did you fact check your story? Did you give even a cursory google of the topic to see what verification you could find about the moment? No, because you can’t—hyper localized “reporting” is generally unverifiable for the general Facebooking public. This is what journalists train to do, verify the story. There was a time in our world where it was unthinkable to publish a story without due diligence of fact checking, but now that everyone and their pocket is a publishing house and a news aggregator, everything is iffy. I don’t believe a word I read anymore, especially on Facebook. There is too much emotion involved, there are too many nosy motherfuckers who think that it’s their right as a “concerned citizen” to intervene in situations that have absolutely nothing to do with them. Somewhere along the way, a huge selection of the population started to believe that if they can see it or read it, it involves them. It’s like the heckler at a comedy show, they’re attention seekers that are uncomfortable not being the centre of attention, so they try to get involved, instead of realizing that they are unneeded. Just because you want to help (or harm) doesn’t mean you have the right to.
It’s such a basic concept that makes my heart weep to restate, but there are fully grown men and women who are comfortable with barging into other people’s lives because they saw some shit on Facebook.
It’s fucking maddening. Stop it. Who does it serve? Who benefits from hurt on hurt on hurt? When does the healing start? It’s fucking maddening.
See you tomorrow.
Writer, performer, producer and musician from Alberta.