Why I Quit Social Media for a Week


I struggle with writing this blog entry. Back in August, I wrote about about personal brands and traits of people that make me loyal to them or want to steer clear of them. It got a good number of likes and comments and it’s absolutely true to my heart. These weren’t exactly the seven deadly sins, but were more about what I think it takes to have mutually respectful relationships in today’s world. They’re items on my own personal list which makes them my perspective. And perspective is key here. One of my biggest problems is with people who have unfaltering agendas that are one-sided. I’ve felt that through the election, many people I know showed a lack of perspective for “the other side”. I have friends at both ends of the spectrum and that time was like watching Congress argue to no avail while people who were more centrist would voice an opinion or two but get drowned out.

That seems like it’s somewhat par for the course today. I had some friends who made comments that many of the posts were excessive and there were a few who unfriended and a few who were hidden in news feeds. Nobody was convinced of any new positions that I’m aware of. I don’t think there were even many eyebrows raised or new ideas. It was just the same points of view shown over and over with numbers supporting whatever was being said. And I attempted to stay out of it for the most part because there was no case for even arguing. It was just a fact of life that politics was going to be polarizing. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Unsatisfying. Unfortunate. The people with agendas were shouting over those who didn’t and could see merit in both platforms.

Last weekend something happened that was polarizing as well. Only it shouldn’t have been. It should have been a time when people woke up, got together, and understood that something needed to change. I’m talking about the school shootings in Newtown, CT. What I thought would happen are more reactions like Winthrop basketball coach Pat Kelsey’s. This country has seen recent tragedies such as the Aurora shootings, the Virginia Tech massacre, the DC sniper incidents, and more. They’ve come so often of late that we start to become numb to them. Then there was this incident. Watch Kelsey’s video. It’s a man who voted Republican who is behind President Obama and demanding change publicly. Because this is tragic.

I did see lots of people sharing pictures of teachers who were heroes. I saw images of kids. I saw Victor Cruz, a receiver for the Giants, dedicate the game to a child who’d been killed who apparently was a huge fan of his. But I also saw posts like this one. The day after those teachers and children were killed. And it made me sick.

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I also saw people who didn’t go as far as Mike Huckabee, but who thought God in the schools was the answer. I’m not sure if people think that school prayer will do away with mental illness or if having the Ten Commandments posted in the school will keep killers outside like garlic staying a vampire. Either viewpoint really doesn’t seem very realistic to me. Maybe I’m simplifying things, but I think that’s what it boils down to.

Both of these sets of people are ignoring how others feel and taking slanted views which promote their own agendas. The gun lobby, in particular, is guilty. The NRA’s groundbreaking answer is armed guards in schools. And I suppose we would need armed guards in movie theaters. Plus at every gas station and highway to prevent incidents like the DC snipers? I’m sorry, but the idea just doesn’t hold water. It merely comes across as an excuse to produce and distribute more firearms which is, of course, their agenda. There was no acknowledgement that the petitions for change in gun control in the last week are the biggest ever on the White House’s site.

Of those who want more God in school, there’s a couple groups. One is like Mike Huckabee who I’m going to tag with the agenda label. The other is, in general, well meaning and trying to make sense of this horrible event by clinging to what causes them comfort. I get it. It’s understandable. I see where you’re coming from. But it treads on the rights of athiests, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and even other groups of Christians who worship differently. Look at it from the eyes of children who will end up being ostracized by what amounts to state-sponsored religion. It’s equivalent to telling others that your way of gaining comfort and clinging to morals is the right way. And it’s not going to cure or treat mental illness or keep the boogeyman out.

I couldn’t take the whole thing so I simply had to stop watching it and having the arguments. I was absolutely dismayed that such an event would entrench people into their own beliefs. They believed that their answer was THE answer without middle ground. People gripe all the time about the government not accomplishing anything because of extreme partisanship. But look in the mirror. Look at yourselves. Is there a hot button you have that you haven’t considered both sides of? Does it seem like it is the solution to more problems than it really should? Are you looking at that answer through someone else’s eyes? There’s no meeting in the middle when your agenda is absolute and there is no empathy for others.

You made it this far. This is my closing point. Take the chance to reevaluate yourself and your beliefs. Not just once, but often. There is no real discourse with agendas that are hard and fast. There is no progress. Problems stay problems and the interests of those willing to compromise are not served. Have some empathy and flexibility and start making the world a better place one person at a time.

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29 thoughts on “Why I Quit Social Media for a Week

  1. Great blog. I pretty much feel the same way. We need discourse, we need thoughtful responses to what we see and want to change in society. We need to start by looking in the mirror.

    1. It’s a start for sure, Petra.I have this great hope that the 80% of the country between the fringe 10% at either end will get control back. I also have a fear that the 10% fringes are broadening and will end up being 45% each way.

    1. Karen – I couldn’t stand it either. But I do get that it’s politics and it has its own nature. I may not like it but I can grasp why it got ugly.
      This is something different. 20 dead children and their teachers should be transcendent of agendas and partisanship.

      1. I agree… when you have 20 dead children, there really is no room for partisan politics. I’ve tried to watch a lot of the news coverage this week, especially on AC360 because Anderson Cooper has done a great job covering the personal stories of the victims. By learning about them, I’m hoping it will inspire me to do something to help our country, besides rant about stuff on Facebook. (Well, at least once I get better from my bout with the flu!)

  2. I could not agree more Eric. I am tired of the 10% with extreme positions acting like they represent a majority, hogging the airwaves, polarizing everyone, and paralyzing our country from action. Time for leaders to step up.

  3. I agree we are all leaders. We cast shadows as leaders….so we should all be aware of the shadows we cast. I try to be thoughtful when I plan Den activities for example because I know but choosing to be a den leader I am an influence on a bunch of kids’ lives.

  4. I don’t think the mere allowance (not requirement) that children be able to pray, wear a rosary, t-shirt, whatever regarding religion in a school as “state-sponsored” religion. I would hope that isn’t your point.

    1. No. I have a couple points. One is that the people saying the God in school is the answer to this aren’t even answering the right question. If we introduce more religion then that would have kept the killer from being mentally ill? It would have kept him out of the school? Religion isn’t an answer for either of those. If that’s the answer then the question really is “What excuse can we use to put religion in front of children?”
      That leads to my second point here. Time aside for prayer or other organized religion in school is inherently biased based on those sponsoring it. Other beliefs cannot be taken into account equitably, particularly if those beliefs include atheism. If religious beliefs are so important, we should teach them to our own children in our own homes and in our own places of worship. We shouldn’t do it in a place of education that children are required to attend and as an answer to a question it’s not going to solve.

      1. I’ll add that I agree we do need to move here some. I have zero issue with adding something to the school curriculums to discuss what it means to be a moral and law-abiding citizen in this country. Many of our fundamental laws are based on Judeo-Christian fundamentals. It’s when we start teaching from a specific religion’s perspective that we get in trouble here.
        What do you say?

      2. I would agree with your points. I don’t think this is a question of religion being the answer. I think to a large extent a broader point was being made by Huckabee that probably has some merit in another context. But gun control etc. is in the same position. These issue with this tragedy wasn’t the proliferation of guns or the NRA, those too a points that should be made in a separate context. This tragedy could have been avoided had the mother not allowed access to the guns. Additionally, had there been stringent criteria in place for someone with a mentally challenged child that may have helped. And lastly, had someone been armed to stop him.

        As for religion in the schools, my point is the allowance of say a moment of silence, a school club, a religious themed shirt, a kippah, or a rosary has nothing to do with the rights of an atheist. It’s a matter of free expression. And those who would purport that one person’s mere expression is an inhibitor to another’s rights defies reason. The answer isn’t to disallow religious expression in schools or anywhere else. It’s what is has always been: the freedom of expression. In a truly free society, a student or anyone else would be free to express a religious belief or the lack thereof.

      3. I’m going to back off of debating (we aren’t arguing, which is good!) those two topics.
        My broader point here is that two groups – one a formal organization and one more broad – jumped I to this with answers to Newtown that only served to advance what they wanted. The NRA’s response was likely farther than what most gun owners want. The religion in schools issue would have done nothing at all to stop this horrible event.
        It was all either contextually wrong or making a different point.

  5. well said eric. I don’t like Facebook or any site stuff being someone’s political soapbox. compromise should be a good word inside the beltway and unfortunately it isn’t anymore.

  6. Eric, I like your blog and your point. I think you highlighted a couple key points that we often forget or choose to ignore. 1. Facebook is a place for old acquaintances to reconnect, but there is a reason that we have not kept in contact with our BFF from High School, or we do not socialize with our neighbors or co-workers on a personal level…..we have nothing in common but Facebook makes you want to rekindle old acquaintances, for what reason, I cannot explain. I have personally taken people off of my friend list due to racial slurs or slander against the President; I do not have room in my life for such craziness. 2. People want to belong to something, whether it is Democrat, Republican, NRA, Pro-Life, Synagogue, Church or Club. The problem with belonging is that people forget to think on their own and tend to tow the line regardless. This is sad and shameful. I guess what I am saying is that we need to have open discussions about the issues and come up with real solutions regardless of where you ‘think’ you belong.

    1. Thanks, Gordon. That’s a funny (sort of) point about reconnecting with people who you didn’t want to associate with in the first place. It’s another excellent good point about people wanting to belong to something. And, of course, it’s sad when they forget to think for themselves.

      I guess I’ve been fortunate enough not to see any slurs against the President. I’ve seen plenty of lopsided politics but not bigotry. I have no tolerance for that either. I’m very fortunate that my kids are growing up in a culturally diverse environment. Every time I hear of slurs like that today, I’m saddened. We should be so past that by now.

      Happy New Year.

  7. IMO there is a difference between “state sponsored” religion and allowing the 10 commandments to be talked about in schools. The point is , if more kids were taught the “golden rule” instead of worrying about who might be offended,we might not see the crime rate in this country the way it is now. Is that the only answer? Nope,but what would it hurt besides someone feelings?? BTW. I wont defriend you 🙂 -Mark D.

    1. My wife was actually just saying that last night. I still don’t think it’s the government’s job to teach religion even though the 10 Commandments were Jewish and are a vital part of Christianity.
      Whether the definition of what’s “wrong” comes directly from a higher power or from society’s codification of that into laws to govern by, there’s clearly something that’s not getting across.
      So I didn’t agree with you but I didn’t disagree either 😉

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