In the media, everything is scrutinized: how we look, what we do with our time, what we eat, what we wear. And any significant event has people posting in droves on social media.
The General Election is over. Conservatives won.
And boy, do we know about it!
Social media went crazy with opinion from dawn to dusk on the day the result was announced. The outcome was bound to spark debate, but it seemed that suddenly people found the need, or confidence, to voice their opinions about the result, telling others how they voted (having been silent about their views prior to that), and putting down, either directly or indirectly, other people for their choice.
It was a contrast to the positive vibe the day before (polling day) with people encouraging each other not to waste their vote, and use it! The aftermath felt like a public strop!
A few people I know and admire put emotionally charged posts on Facebook. They were clearly disappointed with the outcome and wanted to vent, but it seemed even the simplest post attracted equally passionate arguments. Arguments that caused fall outs, back tracks and apologies. I saw that several people had unfriended friends due to their public political ‘honesty’ online.
It wasn’t pleasant.
The huge popularity of social media as a place to share aspects of our lives has meant it’s also become a place for us to share what’s going on in our minds as though it’s an extension of our thought process… and I don’t think that’s entirely a good thing!
When reading the comments, I saw some which, when feeling compelled to argue their point, say that they were ‘only being honest’. That they had every right to express their view as they were being ‘honest’.
The problem with communicating with people online is that our words and tone can be misinterpreted so easily. The lack of nonverbal communication, the visual clues to how a person is feeling, means it’s all too easy to get offended over the simplest thing.
The same occurred only a week before with Kate Middleton and the venomous comments about how good she looked the day she gave birth to her daughter, Princess Charlotte.
Again social media turned ugly. Some people showed support for Kate, but many used it as an opportunity to make snide comments about her status, luck and privilege at having an ‘army’ of helpers while we all have to do it alone. Personally, I felt sorry for Kate having to spend such an emotional day trying to please a load of haters.
Surely honesty is far better than the white lies we say all the time? But since when did being truthful about how you feel about someone make it OK to say horrible, hurtful things? It’s become a growing trend in an age where people are becoming increasingly self-obsessed.
The popularity of shows such as Big Brother, which is all about putting a bunch of brutally honest people together, or talent shows like X-factor where people are publicly judged, means we have become comfortable with this method of criticism and think it’s okay to use it in our daily lives.
Perhaps the British are loosening up? Perhaps it’s me being too prim? Perhaps it’s a good thing that we are able to express even our meanest thoughts without caring?
Being honest is something we should all aim for. We want others to be honest with us. Honesty is the best policy. But in this context honesty is being used to define a kind of hurt, as an excuse for saying what you really think no matter the consequences.
But we don’t have to share everything, especially uncharitable thoughts.
I am as opinionated as the next person, but I would hope that I wouldn’t put someone down because they voted for a different party to me… not online that is!
I might think it.
I might have a debate about it.
But I wouldn’t post for all the world to see that I think they’re an ‘arrogant, idiot’ (one of the nicer remarks I saw) who is to blame for the country being ‘ruined’. Or that I hope their children never need the NHS because they voted for Torys (so they deserve their children dying at the hands of a poor-quality health service!).
I’ve also noticed the trend in brutal honesty much closer to home.
My tween’s friends get into all kinds of debates online (as I closely monitor her accounts) and the term ‘I’m just being honest’ crops up again and again when they criticise each other.
What happened to ‘if you can’t be kind, be quiet’?
I’m not talking about ranting online. Ranting is a necessary release… if it’s the occasional ‘the kids are driving me crazy’ kind of rant. People have every right to rant and we can all support each other with a quick message or comment. But should we have every right to be ‘honest’?
I’m not suggesting we live in a sterile world where we can’t express how we feel.
That would be awful!
I just think a bit of tact.
A bit more kindness.
A bit less sharing of some of the bad thoughts might just keep social media a nicer place to be social.
What do you think? Did you notice any bad feeling or nastiness on your news feed over the election?