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Sunday, July 21, 2013

What Social Media & The News Has Taught Me Lately

I don't read the news. I know some people might think I am terrible and ignorant for that, but I'll admit it anyway. Reading the news has a terrible effect on me. It either pisses me off to no end, or I am so heartbroken and devastated that I want to curl up underneath my covers and disappear.

But a funny thing has been happening lately. Facebook has been making me feel the same way. Everyday I am bombarded with pictures of young white kids who were brutally murdered by a black person and captions screaming about why this wasn't on the news or why the President hasn't said anything about this. (FYI I live in the southern US, and yes, the mindset is very different here.)

I very nearly deleted my Facebook account because I was so enraged over these pictures. Why does it have to be a race issue? I keep saying. Do we have to continue to belittle the senseless death of an unarmed teenage boy for the sake of the political statement it makes?

I felt like I was screaming at the wall for all the good it has done me. People responded back with comments either dismissing mine or inviting me to delete them since I felt this way and they felt that way.

I get freedom of speech, I really do. You are entitled to your opinions. But I'm entitled to have a Facebook feed clean of upsetting comments. I get on Facebook to see how my friends are doing and laugh at the occasional funny picture they post from George Takei. I get on there to keep in touch.

But that's the problem isn't it? And that's where the first lesson from social media comes in:

We know too much about each other.

I know things about my friends, their dark little thoughts, that I didn't know or care to know before. People think random things and dark things, but now they have outlets in which to post their thoughts without a filter. My friends wouldn't call me or text me to tell me how they think the death of a teenage boy shouldn't be a national news headline because it isn't for other white kids. It might have come out in conversation with some, but I would like to think they would phrase it better.

The other lesson is from both social media and the news. Throughout this whole thing, I have not been able to understand why it is a bigger issue that Trayvon Martin was a black kid who was killed than the fact that he was a seventeen year-old who was killed. When I first heard about this, I heard about how he looked suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie. My heart broke. As someone who grew up in the era of Jnco's, I completely understood the stereotype of "sketchy" because of the clothes you wear and I was outraged. If a kid in a hoodie walks down my street, I think that a kid in a hoodie is walking down my street.

Zomg! A teenager is walking down my street in baggy pants and a hoodie! He must be up to no good! Or it must be a day that ends in "y"...

And this is where I learned something really important about myself today through social media and the news:

I don't want to believe in racism.

That's right, folks. I don't want to believe racism exists in our world today. Not this heavily. I reserve that ignorant stance for older people who came from eras where it was more common and a bigger issue. But today? We should be beyond that. I hate seeing signs of it in people I care about. I hate seeing it so much in the news. I hate to think that people are looking at me and my "twin" (Yes, she is like a real twin to me. Same birthday only she is a couple hours older than me and we are so alike it is scary sometimes. We don't even communicate in full sentences.) funny when we are out because she is black and I am white.

I hide in my little bubble, naive as it is, and pretend all is well with the world. And then I get pissed when Facebook pops my little bubble.

So what can I do about this? Stop being so naive, I suppose. But I won't. Because, honestly? I'd rather live in my happy little bubble where people see the death of an unarmed teenage boy as tragic and newsworthy because it was tragic and the circumstances made it worse. I might have to delete my Facebook to do it, but I refuse to live in the world it forces me to see sometimes. I'll take my ignorance with a side of bliss, thank you.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent post. Like you, I avoid the news. It usually tends to raise my blood pressure for many reasons, some of which you touched upon. I, too, will continue to live in my little bubble.

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    1. Bubbles are much happier than the world. My husband said I am basically saying I stick my head in the sand, to which I answer "Yes. It is warm and cozy down here." And honestly, that's my answer to racism. Until the rest of the world finds their own bubble where hatred and racism don't exist, they will always be there.

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