Peeking over the fence

I peek out over the fence into the vast internet as I type this out.

This blog post is my "Helllllllllooooooooo, ooooouuuttttt tttttthhhhheeeeerrrrreeee!?"


I keep retreating back to the blog and away from social media because I am really trying to limit my exposure to all of the noise. And by noise, I mean all of the things I don't want to see and the things I don't want presented to me via angry/uninformed/half-informed/biased social media but instead via a respectable news source, reported on by people with (hopefully) as little bias as possible.

Alan Jacobs wrote about this recently, explaining that he does not have Facebook nor Twitter nor does he watch the news but instead reads the news once a week so he completely bypasses the online outrage over certain events.

I'm too scared to go that long without the news. I find myself having to check in on the news at least a few times a day because I have no news apps on my phone so nothing would automatically notify me if Russian missiles were heading this way or the west coast had been hit with an earthquake and then slid into the ocean.

I don't have news apps because I believe that an automatic notification of either the missiles or the earthquake or many other awful things wouldn't do me a lot of good so why bother? Why get pinged in real time about all of the terrible breaking news in the world? What good does it truly do?

Thanks to social media, we not only get our news delivered instantaneously, we also get it delivered with a healthy amount of biased commentary and a not-so-healthy at times amount of fact.

And, have you noticed that a handful of people ruin your social media feed? I have about six people on Facebook always posting crap I can't stand. Everytime I open the app, it seems like one of their posts is waiting to greet me. Sure, I can unfollow these people but then why be connected there at all? (Note: I have unfollowed a few. They are in my Hall of Fame, digitally shunned forever.)

It's like we (society, or at least our online society) want to be outraged, lashing out at the slightest comment. I am always amazed at the people who will turn something I thought was funny into a reason to respond back with something nasty, negative or sarcastic. When it happens, as it did recently, I retreat a bit more and I'm sure I will think "Why bother?" the next time I see something I think is funny and worth sharing.

I wonder, is it a platform problem or a people problem? I think it's both.

The platform bombards us with data/opinions/gripes/terrible news/etc to the point that we're always on edge and the negative things we see online seem to far outnumber the positive things we see online because the people contributing the most online are the ones spending the most time online and they are the ones the most on edge so it's a vicious cycle of frustration.

I wonder if we have gotten used to this vicious cycle or maybe it's FOMO? Or, maybe it's that the amount of time they have contributed to this online life is now so great that they feel that retreating even a bit would be an admission that some or all of that time was wasted.

Maybe the internet has brought them a community they can't replicate in their personal lives. Maybe they really think that what they are sharing is unique and wise and that they are performing a service for the ignorant rest of us.

I have chosen to retreat quite a bit from social media. I write here and not on Facebook and I open Facebook less and less. What I write here autoposts to Twitter thanks to my robot but I don't have Twitter on my phone.

I still peek over the fence. I toss a few words and podcasts over now and then just to see where they will land but it is nice and comfortable back here so I plan on staying put and maybe even building my fence just a tad higher.