I've had an epiphany. *drums roll, horns toot, banners wave* Social media is the steam valve on society's pressure cooker. And here I was thinking it was a place to exchange pictures of kittens in teacups. I'm not talking about #gamergate types, pubescent-minded hatemongers spewing their venom. I'm talking about the rest of us. People with opinions.
I went to Book club last night, and when I voiced an unpopular view, shouting erupted. The noise startled me. When I cause trouble on Twitter or Facebook, the knives thrown my way are sharpened nouns and verbs, their volume is in numbers, not decibels, and the vivisection is done within an allotted 140 characters. The intensity of my Book club buddies's response to my unpopular view was like Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound". No word broke through to distinguish itself. Communication came via tone and facial cues. I sat there, waiting for someone to notice the entirety of the Book club was shouting at me at the same time, but no one did. The shouting seemed to go on forever, but I'm sure it was no more than a full minute. I had to intervene when no one else seemed up for the task, by saying, "the horse is dead. Stop beating it." Communally, everyone agreed. Their point was made. I was wrong.
I didn't know what to think, until much later.
I'm a writer. Every thought, mood, idea or whim I want to express, gets expressed how I want to express it. It's how I make a living. Social media is my playground where fellow writers, complete strangers, people who are as different from me as night is to day, challenge my thoughts, ideas and whims as quickly as I have them.
Most people don't have that, so when an opportunity arises, such as a Book club, to air an opinion, it becomes the most important opinion in the world, at that moment, and the prize is being right, because we all know "right" is a static state with no shades of gray. String enough of these moments together and you get my Book club last night.
I prescribe more social media for one and all. Blogs should be viewed as medicinal. The steam value needs to be thrown wide, everyone needs to have their opinions aired or we run the risk of rot.
There's nothing like 15k comments telling you you're wrong to put things in perspective.
Artwork by A. Rafferty, Copyright 2015
Repped by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.