I’m going to fight fire with fire. Feel free to call me a hypocrite but i, personally, find it quite sad that i feel the need to even turn to social media to express this. I won’t deny that Facebook and Twitter allow me to express myself; they give my blog the most traffic and for that i am eternally grateful. Exams have made me revert to the most mundane forms of procrastination, Facebook being one of them. I don’t have an issue with this. It’s unbelievably boring but i am more than happy to spend twenty minutes browsing some girl from school’s holiday snaps or reading stupid things people said in Waitrose to make me feel like a superior human being. I utilise Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family on the other side of the world, to occasionally make a witty comment about my own life and to liaise with members of my college, societies and committees. Sometimes i get criticised for my constant dissemination of pointless posts on my friend’s wall. These range from Ryan Gosling memes and Honey Boo Boo gifs to the most ridiculous BuzzFeed quizzes. It is all, however, very light hearted. I am afraid that this will end soon. My social media life has recently become dramatically politicised and i feel myself retreating further and further every day.
I understand that Facebook, in particular, is a great way to engage the youth of today. We’re already past the point of redemption here. I’d love it if we could all just go back to writing letters and reading real newspapers and books but i know that is completely unrealistic and somewhat juvenile in our thoroughly modern ‘I own a Kindle’ society. I don’t have an issue with the sharing of links and videos in moderation. I will share a link with my friends if i feel it will enlighten them to something they were unaware of (a TED talk, perhaps) or if it is particularly interesting (a recent example was a video in which models were asked to read out horrific facts about world poverty in a “sexy” voice. It was a real eye-opener). There are endless benefits to this kind of sharing on Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter. Using these as a form of education is great and raising awareness about things is often most effective through these platforms. For example, Facebook is a key tool in the search for missing people; pictures and details can be shared in an instant and the impact this could have on a search for someone is invaluable. Furthermore, social media can be used to raise awareness about charity campaigns and fundraising, Stephen’s Story is the best example of this. This post is not criticising this kind of mobilisation. I am fully in support of using social media to do whatever we can to raise money and raise awareness for causes.
What i am fed up with is the people who are attempting not to raise my awareness but to actively engage me and form my opinions on food, feminism and animal cruelty whilst i’m scrolling through my news feed on a Monday morning. Controversial statuses about recent events and comments in response to these filled with animosity are so overdone that points are no longer being effectively made. Witnessing the escalation of a debate about the debate about whether or not a debate should have happened is not something i am looking for when i click that little blue icon. I am really just hoping that the guy i fancy has changed his cover photo.
If i wish to find out about the election results, i will google them. If i want your opinion on the fact that Nigel Farage once had a pint, i will ask you for it. I understand that expressing one’s self via Facebook sometimes means displaying political or social views that not everybody agrees with but it has reached the point where it no longer has an impact. Everybody has opinions, i get it. Everybody has the right to express their opinion (i am exercising my freedom of speech right now), i get it. It is just so frustrating when loaded comments are attached to articles that i would otherwise have quite liked to read. Some people are sharing simply to be controversial, others are trying to incite a debate, several just want to sound intelligent and this minimises the impact of the few who actually have something to say. The Michael Gove English syllabus reform is a fine example of this. I have a couple of Facebook friends who have eloquently made superb points, uploaded videos and shared articles which really have raised my awareness about this matter. However, the fact that there are a gazillion other statuses just moaning about him makes me switch off. If i were to engage in Facebook politics, i’d be destroying Mr Gove and expressing quite how much The Crucible changed my life (but that would bore you to death and completely contradict the point i am attempting to make).
This post has been developing in my mind for a while but recent events have really made the situation escalate. Those of us that read newspapers and get our news from BBC and Sky news websites will have found out about the MEP election results and the absolutely horrific shootings at Santa Barbara. Those of us that use Facebook will have inadvertently found out about these events as well. I do not wish to discuss these events and i am not trivialising them in any way but i am so bored of people telling me how i ought to feel about them. I will read about things and form my own thoughts in my own time. If i’m honest with you, i never click “see more” on comments because they just make me angry. Now, in the intense world of Facebook politics, i’ll probably be accused of being a Farage-loving, Feminist-hating bitch. Well, so what if i vote UKIP? So what if i vote Labour? So what if i vote for the Pirate Party? So what if i actually think it’s ok that the Durham Union Society invited Godfrey Bloom to a debate here? Oh shit, does that mean i did vote UKIP? No, wait! He left UKIP after the whole “sluts” debacle. Does this mean i think all women are sluts? NO.
I have opinions. I don’t need to share or justify them here, that would kind of defeat the whole point of this post. On Twitter, i’d actively encourage debate. The character limit means there are no endless tirades and i can avoid the 85 comment threads filled with protest. In blogs and other online journalism platforms, express yourself angrily and controversially as much as you like. I am accepting of sharing important or interesting information via Facebook or posting a status to express a serious opinion on a matter one feels strongly about. This week, however, i will be avoiding Facebook at all costs. I don’t want to witness the ‘Farage Barrage’ because it frustrates me beyond belief. Once again, society jumps on the bandwagon and half of us are completely uninformed.
I’m willing to admit i’m uninformed. To be perfectly frank, a lot of the comments on Facebook make me feel completely inferior. I do not know enough about politics, feminism or economics to engage in these debates and i’m probably just a really stupid person criticising that which i cannot be a part of. Or maybe you could infer that in keeping quiet and not ramming my opinions down your throat i’m a complete radical unable to express myself in this sphere without being hung out to dry? Neither of these are actually the case. I am just a twenty year old girl, studying for a degree and trying to single-handedly restore light-heartedness to the world. I understand that these issues need to be considered and discussed and that it might appear that social media is the best place for this. However, in trying promoting “unity”, attempting to “destroy stereotypes” and “empower people”, i’m afraid you’re just pushing some of us away. I’m done with controversy for the minute. I like debate but i don’t always wish to debate. Call me dumb but i kind of just want to see who has broken up with who and to help ma brethren out on candy crush.
So, i apologise for not reading all seventy-six comments about ‘lad-culture’ and not adding my own opinion to the mix. I apologise for not following your advice and voting Green. I’m sorry that i don’t actually hate that politician after you misquoted him that one time. I don’t go on Facebook to be brainwashed or to be convinced of matters that i hadn’t even thought about when i woke up twenty minutes ago. Call me uncivilised, brash or dumb….Do me a favour, though, say it on my blog and not on Facebook. Say it because you mean it and not because you think you should have an opinion. Please realise that having an opinion doesn’t always mean you have to write a status in order to form a solidarity clan with those who ‘like’ it.
If i haven’t convinced you of anything (not my intention, i am merely expressing an opinion) feel free to share this toned-down tirade on Facebook. Add a crazy contra comment to the link because that’s what people seem to do nowadays. Oh, and gimme a like because that’s just so bloody life-affirming.
Until Next Time,