Thursday, December 25, 2014

Facebook Fight Club: We've Turned into Complete Jackasses

Repost: Sunvarmint Ethereal

Disclaimer: I will not say I've been completely innocent in these matters. I can remember a few times where my first inclination was to jump on the "beat-up the other guy" bandwagon. But I do try to control my negative, snarky side.  

The other day I posted something (Yes, I do that). It happened to be some Sunvarmint stuff. It was genius. Or, well, at least inside the NarCisstaVarmint's head, my narcissistic moment here and there. But that is beside the point. 

The stuff I posted wasn't in any way offensive, at least in no way I could tell. But apparently I had posted something similar very recently, in a group. Oh my! So, breaking it down, I posted some flickering light images on a screen that can be easily avoided, but since social media is all about grasping hold of other people's thoughts I guess this guy couldn't let go of it. He made some snarky little comment about my "advertising outside blogs." 

I need to qualify that I VERY rarely post anything in said group. So it isn't like there was any straw on that camel's back.

As far as "outside blogs" goes, I guess he has a point. But the comment was about "advertising outside blogs." I admit I was unaware that there were "inside" blogs. And further, that we were not supposed to share things on Facebook, or that, perhaps sharing your own original content was offensive, as opposed to sharing someone else's. Ahh! I still don't get it! 

I immediately went into stalker mode. I did it. I clicked on his name to see his profile. I was expecting to see some total ass, posting stuff about how Obama was actually the Anti-Christ, about America love it or leave it, or y'know, the complete opposite of what the polarized aspects of my opinions are. Well, surprise. The guy seemed decent enough. He posted some photography, some links to things I actually liked. He didn't seem all that obnoxious. 

But, here's the deal. It got me curious. So I started to observe the patterns of comments in the Facebook group where I had encountered him. Most people are only active in a few selective groups, or at least that's what I've found to be the case. And this was his group, or at least one of them, where he felt cozy enough to just let it all hang out.

And then I started to notice a certain little pattern. He, and a few other people seemed to comment very regularly in this group. And there were a few gang fights that cropped up. One group of three, four, five or so people, who always seemed to comment on similar posts, would sort of meet each other there, and bolster the others. While an opposing group would coalesce around the same issue. It was quite interesting. The arguments were always very close in nature. And the same people would tag each other and say a basic "hoorah" for their buddies. 

Now this isn't to say that at times I didn't like the positions either of these groups would take (smile), except that the Facebook gang mentality seemed to create a certain ignorant rigidity that almost invariably led to bickering. And it became painful to watch. Especially because I grew up in a small Alabama town, where I had observed many such ignorant conflicts such as, what in my day was called "punks vs hicks." Kids in my school began to divide into little teams and actually had verbal and physical conflicts based on nothing more than people and their inherent, primal need to gang.  

Just a random, happy Sunarmnt
 These Facebook brawls were very similar to those primitive conflicts from high school. It reached the point where these group comment brawls, which were allowed to continue, I assume due to the moderators hopes of philosophically adhering to the concept of freedom of speech, would go on for hundreds of comments and an orgy of clicks and likes and tags.. Until, finally contentious posts would, more often than not, need to be removed and the members of the group would be very unprofessionally rebuked by the moderator. 

Oh my fellow Facebookers, why do we fail to follow the wisdom espoused in meme... "Your obnoxious comments in ALL CAPS have completely changed my mind...said no one ever." Well, admittedly it sounds way better when it looks like Will Farrell is saying it.      

Though anonymity is lessened when a profile and name are available, it seems there is still a sense of security and hubris which comes from sitting behind the keyboard. It's not unlike the pre-road-rage moments, I'm sure, when one driver, safe in his/her box, rudely cuts off another driver, safe in the other box. But then worlds collide when driver two forgot to take their meds and all hell breaks loose. 

It's that ease and false sense of detachment from actual contact that allows people to become so bold. But it never really plays well to our needs as a civil society. We pump up the little balloon full of stress hormones and then eventually it will pop. Somewhere, somehow, it will pop. And I wish I could claim that this was sort of an extremist event, that people were moderately civil for the most part. But we're all rolling around in it. Occasionally some soft little voice will comment "can't we please stop all the fighting?" But that voice is quickly stomped out by some one sided, unconstructive, diplomatically vacuous comment.  

It saddens me really, to see people behaving so rudely and uncaring. But it's becoming more and more prevalent. Perhaps it's my old Southern gentility creeping back through. Perhaps my notions of respect don't mesh with where the world is headed, and I need to just die off and leave it to the rude folks. I hope not. But there are a few things from my Southern heritage that I want to keep intact. Polite manners is one of them.