Before I begin, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to all those who are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I implore everyone, if you are able, to please donate to any one of the wonderful organizations working to help those affected. I will post a few links at the end of this blog.
With that said…
Every once in a while, I like to switch it up and try something new with this site. Recently, I asked everyone to send in ideas for what I referred to as the Reader's Choice blog. There were quite a few responses, and I thank everybody who participated.
Throughout all the different topics that were suggested, I found it quite interesting that many of the ideas were things I had already planned to blog about. But one idea stood out more than all the rest. And it's timing was perfect because I had recently had a conversation about this very topic with a friend. So the Reader's Choice blog subject ended up choosing itself.
A while back, I wrote a piece for Thyroid Nation called Thyroid and Autoimmune Disease - Beware of Social Media. It was about the different Thyroid groups on Facebook, and how dangerous they can be. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that there are places for people with Thyroid conditions, like me, to get together and share their "war stories." But I find it quite irresponsible when people without the proper degrees dispense medical advice, and for people in a group just to follow without consulting a physician. Being that no two people are the same, and many factors lead to any condition, it can lead to major problems.
Since being published, the article has made the rounds a time or ten on Facebook, and the response has always been mixed. Many people agreed, and got the message I was trying to convey, while others were outraged. To be more specific, I'm talking about people who ran certain groups. Needless to say, I was removed and no longer welcome in those groups, and the admins stopped speaking with me.
I'm not going to lie; it did hurt at first to be ostracized for my opinion. But after really thinking about it, I realized that I was talking about a Facebook group, and about people whom I had never met before. They had no bearing in my everyday life, nor did they pay my medical bills, so why was I allowing these people to effect me in such a way?
Social Media is a funny thing. Apps like Facebook help reacquaint us with people from our past, keep us in touch with loved ones all around the world, and can help us advertise the projects we are currently working on. That last part is particularly helpful for someone who publishes a blog, like me. In fact, I'd say that most of my readers have come through Facebook. The rest have been through word of mouth... of people who found my blog through Facebook. So in that respect, these apps have been good to me.
They also help us get in touch with others who have similar interests or dealing with similar situations. Thanks to Facebook, there are tons of different groups to join on numerous topics, from pet owners to bloggers to... you name it. I personally have come in contact with so many people struggling with Thyroid issues, much like myself. In fact, I would say that a third of my friend's list on Facebook are Thyroid Warriors. They have helped me find different materials and resources regarding Thyroid nutrition and health, and through these connections, I have joined several Thyroid groups, and have gotten published on a couple of Thyroid sites.
But there is a downside to these groups and to social media in general, and that is this freedom that some people think they have to say anything they want, and be disrespectful towards others. It's as if hiding behind a screen has validated their right to be downright hateful. And I guess it's easy to hurt someone from the safety of your own computer, rather than having the balls to have a face-to-face conversation with a person, and dealing with the fall out. And in some of these instances, I'm sure a sit-down, one-on-one conversation would have a very different outcome than a gang-up on social media.
I'm sure haters and trolls have always existed, but I really started noticing this trend when it came to the election. People were very passionate about their opinions on each of the candidates, and had no problem vocalizing it. The problem was that so many people were talking and wanting to be right, that nobody was actually listening. Lots of relationships fell to the wayside because of political differences. I mean, I don't have to remind anyone that I no longer have a relationship with my family after a conversation had on Thanksgiving two years ago. Unfortunately, this political divide is still happening today, and it's only getting worse.
But as bad as these political fights have gotten, there was another incident that just hit home for me. An acquaintance wrote a Facebook status about a relationship that had ended, and how he was feeling. Some people showed sympathy, while others responded by just crucifying him in the name of his ex. I would like to say that I was in shock at the behavior of these people, but I experienced it myself when I broke up with one of my exes. People felt they had the right to judge me, and others just stopped speaking with me altogether, while remaining on my friend's list and reporting back to said ex.
What made it even funnier was that these same people, who made it clear that they wanted nothing to do with me, would send me invitations to stuff they were involved in. Now I'm all for supporting others in their endeavors, but if you want nothing to do with me, and even bad mouthed me, what makes you think I'm going to do anything for you? The whole thing was really upsetting for me because I had no problem with anyone before that, and their only issues with me were based around that ex. Eventually, I had to unfriend, and even block, some of those people.
Now call me crazy, but unless you were one of the two people in the relationship, who are you to judge anyone? I get that you want to defend your friend, but unless you were there, you don't know what really happened. What you do have is a one sided version of the truth. That's just a fact. So to attack another person for something you are not a part of is absolutely ridiculous and uncalled for. If you don't like what somebody has to say, follow the cardinal Housewives rule, and don't engage. Or better yet, why the hell would you stay friends with the ex of somebody you claim is your friend? Do you think you are doing your friend any favors by doing so? And more importantly, what do you get out of that deal?
While we are on this subject, I just want to point out that this particular ex and I broke up two and a half years ago, and that relationship lasted a total of three of my forty-three year life. I'm happy with where life has taken me since. So please don’t feel it necessary to reach out when something happens with him, especially if we don’t normally speak. Just saying, but I digress...
Regardless of the topic, people on social media tend to have an opinion on everything, whether we want to hear it or not. I get the whole argument that if somebody didn’t want an opinion, then why would they post something online, but sometimes, the opinion is taken too far. Sometimes, people just need to vent, and being that a Facebook page is meant to be a person’s personal page, they should be able to speak without fear of being judged.
I think in the end, it’s important to realize that Facebook is a social app, and that there is a big difference between the real world and the one we post on Facebook. I’m not saying that they can’t intertwine, but in some cases, people only post what they want the world to know. Or post how they want the world to see them. They will hide the bad parts in fear of being judged for their true self. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not a true depiction of a person, and we as the reader, judge people solely on the written. That is not a true reality.
As important as it is for the reader to understand that what we respond to may or may not be a full story, it is equally as important for the writer to understand their part. It’s great to have hundreds of friends through an app, but you also have to realize that some of the people are not real friends. They didn’t grow up with you, or have ever met you to truly understand how you speak, or your sense of humor, or even how you carry yourself on a daily basis. They only know you through the written, so you will solely be judged on that. And as upsetting as that can be sometimes, you really can’t fault them in their response to you. It’s kind of like being friends with a character from a TV show or movie.
At the end of the day, it’s important to know the place Facebook friends hold in your life, and how their opinion will affect you. If at the end of the day, they are someone you solely know through Facebook, and their opinion has no bearing in your life, then why even bother getting upset over what they have to say? Focus on those that you hold important, and if what they say bothers you, then take a look at that. Or better yet, pick up the phone and have a conversation with them to see where they are coming from. Maybe they are seeing things from a different perspective, and you can learn something.
This actually brings me to another downside to these apps, which I myself am definitely guilty of. As time goes on, I have become more aware that these apps have lessened the need for us to personally stay in touch with people. Because we get a status update on Facebook, or see a picture on Instagram, we think we know exactly how somebody is doing. There is no need to have a conversation anymore, which when you think about it, is actually kind of sad.
Unfortunately, I can't solely blame social media for my lack of involvement in certain relationships. It's my responsibility to keep in touch with the people I care about, and I am slowly working on being more in contact with people.
With that said, I would like to point out that regardless of the connection, whether it be a family member, a friend, a partner, a job or even a Facebook friend, relationships are a two-way street. There has to be a mutual respect going, otherwise the relationship can be detrimental. If somebody is not treating you with respect and kindness, or makes it very clear that they don’t want you in their life, or that your relationship can only exist under their terms, you have every right to walk away with a clear conscience. Nobody should be allowed to treat you like you are unimportant, and their behavior speaks volumes about them and their character, not about you. Never allow anyone to disrespect you.
I hope everyone enjoys these last days of summer, and I will speak to you soon.
These are just a few places, but please click on the following links to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey:
The LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund: https://my.reason2race.com/DNicol/HurricaneHarveyLGBTQDisasterReliefFund2017
The Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: https://secure2.convio.net/hspca/site/Donation2;jsessionid=00000000.app270b?df_id=3305&3305.donation=form1&_ga=2.73245716.606812588.1504625200-1368767030.1504625200&NONCE_TOKEN=4E0ACF05B74DF46C1B64558799B8B8A3