I was just reading about a professional Canadian tennis player, Rebecca Marino who is only 22, who is giving up the sport because she is tired of the bullying she is receiving online in social media. She has had enough of people telling her to go die or complaining because they lost a bet on her. The usual nonsense stuff that we have all grown accustomed to these days. She says it makes her depressed and she battles depression anyway. She told reporters it has taken the fun out of the game and why play if you don’t enjoy it?
The thing is I can relate. In the last year, really the last 2 months, I have majorly realigned my social media ‘friends’. Maybe, I have become older and wiser (although I am sure that is debatable) and am getting more peculiar about who I let stick around me. It seems to me though the older I get the more I am becoming a believer in that your ‘friends’, or just the people you hang out with, can rub off on you or say as much about you as them.
I recently dropped a bunch of people I use to see daily in life from my FB. A majority of my local contacts here actually. I was getting messages because I post articles and comments in different languages. Most my close friends are overseas so sometimes I post something for them or try to share what they have to say. But this area is backwards and I would get snide comments and insults about how un-American I was etc. I guess the spirit of Joseph McCarthy lives. It got to the point I was getting comments about how much people despised me etc. and one day I just said, why I am putting up with this?
In an attempt to make these changes, I had pretty well quit seeing these people in my ‘real’ life anyway. Most of them are losers with the ambition of a gnat and literally have zero knowledge of anything outside their little sphere of life. I’ve always surrounded myself with people of different stripes, and if you know me, you know I don’t let a difference of opinion or culture be a deciding factor in friendship.
I don’t want to live in an echo chamber – that is part of what is wrong in the world now – but by the same token I realized that having to deal with hurtful language and a mob mentality takes its toll. Cyber-bullying comments just spoil a day. They hang with you even after you have logged off. Life is too short for all that. So yeah, I know exactly what the tennis player was saying when she said social media made her depressed and destroyed the fun in the game.
We often let ‘norms’ dictate our lives. We’re on social media because everyone else is. We feel like we have to approve a friend request from someone we know even though we think they have a screw loose most days. The thing is, these are norms because we let them be. If you don’t like the norm then change it! Sometimes this is hard. I literally quit going to one of my fav hangouts because it had become such a negative experience every time I went there (it didn’t use to be that way) and I realized if I didn’t stop that eventually I would be fitting right in and I certainly didn’t want that to happen.
I have noticed a real difference since I made these changes. I’m just more at ease with myself and a lot less agitated by things. So maybe I have gotten older and wiser – still doubtful though – but the tennis player is right, if you don’t like it, don’t put up with it. Seriously, you don’t need it or the people doing it.