Monday, November 28, 2016

One thing we can do is exert control over our digital environments. Should be easy enough, right? We create them, maintain them, visit them daily.

How is it, then, that a simple social network can turn into such a raging sh*theap?

It brings to mind what Anil Dash said during a keynote speech at a conference in Vancouver last year. "If your comments section is full of assholes, it's your fault." He's right.

When it comes to news, it's not healthy to trim and clip your sources of input until there is no dissonance. You should hear bad news. You should be exposed to ideas you don't agree with. But one piece of the equation that gets left out, or that people are afraid to include, is that news should also be true. There's a difference between news and commentary, and it's up to every citizen to be able to tell the difference. Because the folks peddling misinformation sure aren't going to tell you.

But unlike the in-flow of news, a social network is what you want it to be. Even if that means it's nothing.

I love Twitter. I feel I have rich and meaningful interactions and in-flow there. Facebook, on the other hand, has never felt good. The whole friend thing just rings so hollow. And it is so easy to succumb to argument and flaming and get baited into dumb discussions and exhibit generally bad behavior.

It should be ok to unfriend people. It should be ok to go there once a month or year if I feel like it. It should be ok to not get an invitation or a notice because you didn't see it on Facebook because you don't go there.

Here's me exerting control. I intend for that control to include more frequent use of this blog. And of Twitter, and of other more direct connection with people whose ideas and conduct I admire. Because that is how to attain peace of mind, I believe. To tune out from that which does not help or strengthen you, to let go of that which drains you. To find meaning in art and nature, and only check in on politics as necessary.

(Thanks to Jeff Eaton, from whom I stole the toilet fire icon.)

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