Writer’s Workshop: Why So Tense?

There are days when I’d like to rewind the clock to 1978, find the guy or guys responsible for creating the Internet, sit them down, and convince them that it’s a very bad idea and that maybe they should keep it to themselves. I believe that the Internet is the greatest source of stress in the world today, and that the world would be a better place without it.

Well, not the whole Internet. Just maybe the biggest piece of it: social media. I’m not even sure that social media is the biggest piece of it, but it’s the part that grabs all the headlines and everybody seems to talk about it. And it’s the part that causes the most stress.

Time was, if you wanted to call someone an @$$hole, you had to tell him to his face, send him a letter, or call him on the telephone. Telling him to his face might get your teeth knocked out, sending him a letter meant you needed a stamp, and calling him on the phone cost a dime (or whatever the going rate for a station-to-station call was at the time). And if you called or wrote, there was a good chance that he’d find you and knock your teeth out.

Now, all you have to do is get on Facebook or Twitter and do it. In fact, you don’t even need to know the person: you can call a complete stranger an @$$hole and get away with it. Sure, if you know them, they might find you and knock your teeth out, but what are the chances if you’ve never met the person face-to-face? So now, you have a medium where you can call complete strangers names with impunity. Best they can do is call you one back, and you’re even. You can block them, sure, but they can always come up with a different user name to torment you anew.

Seriously, there are people whose whole life consists of getting on social media and tormenting others. That’s what they do for fun.

But it’s not just Facebook and Twitter: it’s anywhere you can make comments. And it’s been going on for years. Remember LISTSERV? Message boards? IRC? I wrote someone and asked him to stop spamming me, he threatened to sue me, claimed he wasn’t spamming me, just sending me unsolicited commercial email (which, by the way, is spam). We went back and forth all day, until finally I wrote and said I was sorry, thinking that would end it. It didn’t. I then realized that I was dealing with some liver-lipped moron who got his jollies by starting fights over email with complete strangers and creating stress for them.

Come to think of it, maybe the whole thing is evil and must be destroyed.

21 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Why So Tense?

  1. Social Media has gotten out of control. I really pulled back from it after covid hit. In addition to the typical negativity, now you tons of misinformation and opinions flying around. Enough already! But I do enjoy the Internet still. it’s a double-edged sword. 🙂

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    1. The Internet is great. I use YouTube and (of course) WordPress daily, and I don’t know how many times a day I use DuckDuckGo to look something up. Social media, however, is a huge time suck: there are times I’ll be looking at Facebook or Twitter and ask myself why I’m looking at them…

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  2. I don’t understand people who (cowardly) want to spend their time getting in arguments on the internet. Many are just trolls purposely wanting to shake things up. I refuse to go there!

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  3. The mere fact that it’s called “social” media is almost an oxymoron.

    All of these sites are nothing more than a stage for the malcontents of our world to perform badly in cyberspace. I’ve no problem with people wanting to be heard, everyone is entitled to their opinions and the right to speak freely. With boundaries, of course.

    Stay safe!

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    1. Outside of creating a panic (e.g. yelling “fire” in a crowded room) and slander/libel, I think people are entitled to their opinion and the free expression thereof, provided they also accept the consequences of their words. Stating an unpopular opinion can actually resullt in some good discussion and a better understanding of differing points of view. Nowadays, it can result in ad hominem attacks, threats of violence against the speaker, possibly endangering not only the speaker but his loved ones, his personal information being revealed, his life destroyed. People with little else to do and no qualms of conscience, who without Facebook and Twitter would be muttering to themselves on buses, suddenly have a playground for their sociopathic behavior. They can sit in their basements and spew. It ruins the experience for everyone.

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  4. It is a shame how many young people place so much f their pain on social media to the point that they commit suicide. I think it sucks to be honest and wish I could just tell kids to read a nice book or go outside and play. The best is to just ignore the crap especially people who get their kicks out of bullying others. They are the essence of coward

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    1. I think kids need to be kept off social media until they’re at least 18. That’s the parents’ job, frankly. All of this pandemic panic (none of which is justified, IMHO) has just made the problem worse. Kids need to be with other kids and they need healthier alternatives than social media. They need to have their parents tell them to leave the house and not come back until the street lights come on. Get away from the TV, the Game Boy, and the computer and spend some time outside or reading a book or something.

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  5. John,

    I do remember the day before Internet. I don’t think it’s technology, although, it certainly is a bad tool in the wrong hands but it’s people. Their hearts are filled with such hate and discontentment. They want to be mad at the whole world starting with you first. There will always be something someone will do that you won’t like. I try my best to let it all roll off my back and if someone spams me, then I just delete with extreme prejudice. I won’t approve someone’s comment if I remotely think they aren’t legit and what I mean by that is someone who is a personal blogger who wants to connect in a friendly way. You tell such good stories. Oh yeah, in 1978 you could call someone a bad name and then the next day be buddies again. 🙂

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  6. The internet is full of bullies that must be lacking something in their lives. It’s unfortunate they find it satisfying to hide behind their computer screen and torment others. I ignore them and eventually they go elsewhere.

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  7. Interesting. The new way of communicating, social media, makes cowards out of people. As you say, historically you had an opposite opinion or complaint, you dealt with it face to face, in real life. There would be consequences, usually instantly handled – that punch in the face, the reaction/overaction – but (perhaps) at least dealt with. And now we can move on. Leave it alone. The nature of social media means it can go on and on, be spread around, commented on by strangers, misinterpreted, built on and exaggerated with no recourse. Behind the anonymity of the internet.
    Of course, there is so much (potential) good with the invention of the internet. Hard to see for the woods, sometimes.

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    1. Face to face, at some point you reach a point where you just agree to disagree and move on, or you come to some sort of consensus and everyone walks away, if not totally happy, at least satisfied you got heard. It’d be great if things could work that way online, but sadly, that doesn’t appear to be possible. There is a whole lot of good that can come of the Internet: YouTube is a perfect example. People are willing to share their knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, for free. You can learn to do just about anything from there. Just don’t read the comments…

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