I have almost reached the tipping point of social media to where I simply walk away from 90% of my contacts.
I know, I know - many of you do not have the darn thing at all, or have advised me in the past to get rid of it. And to a large extent, I have tried to moderate the amount of time I spend on it - and succeeded. But one thing that has consistently remained with me is my unwillingness to "ignore" or "unfriend" people.
(To the uninitiated: "ignore" is where you no longer see their postings. "Unfriend" is where you no longer follow them at all.)
I like people. I do not want people to thing ill of me. And so I tend to keep them on my list. I try to overlook opinions I disagree with or posts I do not consider appropriate. But more and more I am finding myself highly aggravated by what I read people posting.
The problem - as people far more clever than I have posted - is that the InterWeb in general and social media in particular is not a place to make an argument or have a discussion. In many ways it has become the Western Front of World War I, where artillery shells are fired back and forth and occasionally people lead charges across no-man's land which ultimately result in nothing. It has become a vast, pock-marked landscape devoid of any life.
Oddly enough, some of the people that I hang on to are in fact not really any part of my life any more - have not been for years. In a sense this is the microcosm of the issue of social media: rediscovering relationships which one may have had years ago or for years only to find out that you have both moved significantly apart. In fact, you may very well be strangers in every sense of the word except for a relationship that has become nothing but a hollow shell.
And as I have come to understand, is this not in fact something which can ultimately limit us all? If we are only concerned with the opinions of those that no longer matter to us we are no longer self directed but directed by their will. We have become servants of that which is nothing but the greatest of all straw men, Public Opinion.
So what do to?
I have started at the only place I know: by beginning to systematically hide the posts of anyone whom I know longer have an active, on-going relationship with. It is not a lot, to be sure. But I will start with 10. And then another 10. And perhaps over time, I will begin to rediscover the power of being an individual instead of a servant to demands I can never achieve.