Echo chambers and voids

Big things are happening everywhere. These things are noteworthy, eye-opening, and discussion worthy things. In the midst of all that deserves to be discussed about Paris, I realize that I’ve simply wanted to avoid most channels open for doing so. Well, let’s just name the beast. It’s Facebook, the great echo chamber of the world. We shout into it to hear the echo back from the like-minded. We all do it.

In the same weekend as the Paris tragedy came yet another questionable fatal shooting by a police officer. This one took place here in Minneapolis. I’m not going to get into the witness accounts, police records, facts or lack thereof thus far, simply that it occurred and people are angry. So angry that the Black Lives Matter movement took to shutting down a freeway that is the Twin Cities most major artery. It got press, then it trended, and then the venom.

My feed is filled with so much acid, so much twisted vitriol, that I can barely look to maintain the modicum of interpersonal connection upon which the foundation of my Facebook usage was built. Look, I know that everyone uses social media for various uses, but mine was more benign. I honestly do use it for news as well, but like most of us do, I’m learning that there are hateful people far too close to my inner circle.

The posts –Muslims this, Black Lives Matter that– it’s just so difficult to wade through. I honestly think personal connection is one of the finer, more important thing in existence. I have simply come to understand that social media isn’t about connection anymore; it’s about screaming into the void. People say the quasi-racist things that they would never get away with face to face. It’s allowing us the unmitigated, non-repercussive power to be loud cowards, to join sides and to pick the choir to which you will be preached. This leaves me so hollow.

I’m not even saying that Facebook is the issues. I need FB to be a catalyst for communication for so many 2nd and 3rd tier friends that still mean a great deal to me. I can’t speak on a need to rid yourself, much less myself, of the burden it places upon us all. I am just saying that, with all this turmoil, all this anger, all this hatred, we just want to be heard.

That’s why we do most of this right? Why we post at all? We want to share and have it matter. I don’t want to denigrate anyone for doing so, nor do I intend to suggest that it shouldn’t be done, but simply to acknowledge its roots: a need to matter. We all want to matter. This world is so large, but the internet has left us with a swath of communication lines of which we all deserve to take some sort of advantage. In this large world, the great unifier — the internet — has simultaneously become the great divider. I have gotten mad at, defriended, unfollowed, hidden, and seethed at people whom in real life I care for to a great deal. They simply use this wall to hide behind, and the communication it allows for the critically ugly.

We are at an age in society that people are being killed and legitimately killing for the same reasons as the yelling online: simply being marginalized, and simply unheard. This is Black Lives Matter. This is the last handful of mass shootings, they weren’t people that were bullied, but lone men who thought they deserved to have more attention paid to them or simply deserved more sex. They thought they were not being heard as men. It’s so awful to hear, it’s so awful to type, and it’s so awful that those that perpetrated such atrocious attacks on Parisians enjoying a football match, simply think they are not being heard either. And after all these things, we can’t help but take to the internet to hear what others are yelling about, sift through until we have our own opinion and begin the yelling anew but reinvested and doubled down on with personal reasoning.
We have a national holiday next week about being thankful for whatever we open our hearts and minds up to, yet we know has greater sales implications eating that day. I wish I could see the love that came the night of the Paris attacks and hold onto that because it was beautiful, even if for the sake of attention, it was the world coming together to say let’s stand together. Not standing together to fight, but stand together because we as the human race need to do that more. Unfortunately, we typically do this in the wake of tragedy, and only until we inevitably become mad. It’s one of the stages of loss. It’s bound to happen, but now it’s etched in the binary annals of time and for your world to see rather than simply your closest friends that earned the spot to see you at your darkest.

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