Scrolling Monsters, Trolls, and Other Horrific Things

October is here and I love the fall. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because of the creative ways we express our culture through costume, pretend, and imagination. Creepy things, pumpkin spice, and the thrill of jovial jump scares are in the air.

Today was the first morning I've felt the cool 55F breeze and enjoyed inhaling the full breath of that crisp air in my lungs. Hearing the birds and small creatures in my back yard, watching the leaves float, and tasting the warm life-force (aka coffee) all bring me peace. I need that peace frequently to deal with the stress of the difficult days. 

The stress of my every day comes from different sources; family concerns, work difficulties, and various overwhelming things. Maybe very like yourself, some of these things I can control, and most I cannot. They cause stress just the same. There's only so many inspirational sentence (mis)quotes one can swallow. 

I am finding myself more and more frequently overwhelmed by the images I see and the words I read on social media. Information overload! Some things are so beautiful and uplifting, educational and ground-breaking even. Most things are, well, just not. I know that it is my choice to see and read these things. I could easily just disengage and deactivate my accounts. I have thought of that so many times...but to do that seems extreme. In an age when social media is a "proof" of life, social presence and worth. On a global scale I am nobody and I am totally cool with that. Because I know that I matter to the people who matter. Social media platforms have created millionaires and ruined lives; it has also created monsters of a very real kind.

In just one hour of social media today I've encountered: 
Breaking News, Fake News, the "T" - and we all want to be the first to share it. 
Political rants, and too many discriminatory remarks to mention
Talking heads, all selling the same things. 
Buy Buy Buy...but also minimalism 
And so so much more unnecessary gross.

Ellen can't sit next to George W. Bush at a football game without the "whole" world commenting on it. So much so that she felt the need to make a statement publicly, which speaks to her power and ability to use her platform to initiate conversation toward change in the way that she can via hard-won fame. Her address shares my concern for our world and is partly what gave me the courage today to type. 

But what actually broke me today? A colleague posted a (humorous to them) meme. It was not just vaguely, but unequivocally, ageist. Apart from that, it was just plain rude. Did I have to be offended? Of course not. I could just scroll on down the feed. Our choices are: engage in conversation, which typically does not end well, or ignore and let the likes and shares accumulate. Maybe click the elusive "Report" button LOL. I feel sorry for the humans who might filter that feature. 

I already hear someone calling me a Snowflake. If so, you are only emphasizing my point. Do I want to pick a fight with my colleague because I "know" they are wrong, no. Do I hate this person, no. I CAN still enjoy this person's company even though they post things I don't agree with. 

But why? Why do we keep this ugly divisive cycle going? Can we stop sharing false stories? Why can't we agree as humanity to respect each other? Can we stop already with the labels and assumptions that every person who is of a certain age or generation is going to act a certain way? Why do we engage with amazing hostility our personal "opinions" as non-negotiable facts? Look out! Here comes a pithy life quote: 
Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance. - Plato
Is that really a Plato quote? I don't know. 

We are the monsters. 

Today seems to be a hard time to be. 

I can only imagine the days of yesterday and the days before that were a hard time to be. I wasn't alive in the generations before my own. Yet, I fear "tomorrow" may prove to be even harder for the young ones with loud voices that fill the walls of my home and heart, and those that are after them. I hope that their voices continue to be amplified and strong in many ways, to speak against the hard things that currently are, and to break the speakers with such cries of truth that the world has to stop and listen instead of covering their ears. I also really hope that they never use the power of their voice to diminish other people, to break others down because they "have the right" to use their voice. Every word that leaves our mouth (or typing fingers) has potential power. 

If you've scrolled to the end 
and get the advice you didn't ask for. 
Choose to use words and your platform for good. Here is the real T - You are of worth. Your voice does matter. Even when you don't feel like anyone is in your corner, choose to be in the corner of someone else. If you are breathing, you have something to offer and you are a winner. Create things with love and give them away. Ignore the white noise and search for the loud and clear. Find your balance. Try every day to make the world around you less crappy in ONE SMALL WAY. Take a break from your phone and actually talk to a human, call your friends - not just text or snap. Check on your people. Love your neighbors. Evaluate your own mental health and do something good for you that makes your heart content...not just happy, but truly content. You deserve it. Then get back to work making the world a better place. Just don't be a monster.