There are monsters that live in my computer screen. I see them at all times of the day or night; it appears they never sleep. I have noticed they seem to exist in relatively equal numbers of young and old, male and female and the most dominant among them feed themselves successfully on anonymity, ego, self-righteousness and a hefty dose of ignorance. They are the social media monsters.
I belong to a closed Facebook group that shares the common bond of geography. It is a community group that I joined because I found it helpful in times of natural disaster; flooding, fire, etc. It also proves beneficial in a neighborhood watch capacity. I left the group voluntarily a year or so ago because it was clear that although a large group, numbering in the thousands, the primary contributors are the same thirty to forty people. Furthermore, it is this small, yet vocal subset that share their endless opinions on everything from the bug on their front porch to the meth heads that may or may not live down the lane. These people were not actually the monsters. Social media is all about sharing opinions, so if I wasn’t interested…and I wasn’t…it was my decision to leave.
I rejoined the group recently. I came back for the previously described benefits and hoped the rest could be ignored but that is when one of the larger monsters began to appear again and again; relentless in her quest for supremacy.
She is not a young fiend but a grandmother like myself. I have never met her, nor at this point do I ever want to, but through her legion of daily posts I have learned more about her than I ever wished to know. She is a champion for animals and in that regard it would seem her heart is in the right place but that is where any positives I could share come to an end.
The problem is if one does not feel exactly as she does about an issue, or care for their animal exactly as she wishes it to be done, or pose a correctly worded inquiry, then hell hath no fury like this woman will unleash. In the few short weeks I have been back in the group, she has been at the center of at least three major shit shows. She insults, belittles, makes liberal use of the snarky terms “buttercup”, “honey”, and “snowflake” and yet is dedicated to repeating again and again the certainty of her superiority. While disparaging others she continually refers to her spending copious amounts of money to “do the right thing” by her animals, argues in circles when she can’t make a solid point and when backed in a corner will resort to “well, I have more important things to do than argue with you”. This is usually her comeback by post 50 or 60.
Most recently, she jumped into a discussion about horses; something I can say I know something about. Not only did she give completely wrong information she inserted again and again how she had a horse with the same problem but SHE had spent copious amounts of money to correct it because SHE was a good horse owner. It should be said that the discussion was regarding an old, unthrifty animal in a pasture of younger, fitter animals. Sometimes you just can’t fix old; backs will dip, ribs will show, lips will hang. You help them the best you can until it is time to say goodbye. Oh and by the way, hard riding is not the cause of a sway back…just sayin’.
I use this local monster as an example of a much larger problem. In a world where bullying is decried at every turn, these screen monsters are the worst kind of bully. In a fight to make themselves relevant, to matter, to boost their self-confidence, they spend hours on the keyboard insulting, degrading, and belittling anyone whose views are not their own. Do I have a blog to be relevant? Certainly not, I have a blog because I like to write. Do I blog to shove my views down a readers throat? Maybe to provoke discussion, but no one is required to agree.
You must fight the urge to reason with them. Opposition feeds them, it empowers them, and more than anything, the monsters don’t care. They receive a type of gratification from this behavior which they are unwilling to relinquish.
The common response when I bring up this issue is, “Well, just scroll past.” At the core, this is, of course, true. But on the days when there is far more scrolling than actual catching up with friends, seeing family pictures, or having a, heaven forbid, civil exchange of ideas, all I see are monsters; multiplying, relentless, and never going away.