The Quiet

I grew up as an only child. I can’t speak for every only child, but I grew accustomed to dealing with some things better than I’ve observed people who have siblings do, such as quiet and general isolation. It was just an everyday thing. They’re enjoyable, if you let them be. They give you time to reflect and think. You have time to flesh out the skeletons of ideas that come to you over the course of the day, but can’t consider during the hustle and bustle.

With the grand invention of the Internet, though, I can talk to everyone I know whenever I want. I can discuss these ideas. I can get whatever information I need to understand anything I want better. I can put my thoughts out there in get approval and critiques in order to refine them further.

But, as most of us have discovered, at one time or another, that’s not really the way it works. Let’s ignore that people really love their cat videos. Let’s pretend forums aren’t filled with trolls and don’t act as echo chambers. Let’s even suspend our disbelief and say that people don’t willfully spread misinformation. Even with all of those caveats, it seems as though there’s this ENORMOUS hill to overcome in order to get people to take time to engage in conversations. I don’t come here to read the news, I come here to talk about the news and whatever else is on my mind. If you’re here for news, go click that link labeled “Ongoing Worldwide Data Sources.”

The lack of interactivity when I try to start discussions, though, is a bit disheartening. I talk about and share things because I think they warrant discussion. In trying to encourage discussion, I’m being passively incentivized to make whatever I’m saying as inflammatory as possible, and I’ve tried my best not to do that. Picking a fight isn’t a good way to start a conversation, and neither is using guilt (and I hope you, dear reader, do not think of this post as such).

If I knew how engage people online without feeling like a bully, I wouldn’t be writing this. I try to be the kind of person I want other people to be online – commenting back, liking, giving any indication that what they’re doing is worthwhile. I’m okay continuing to yell into the void, it just seems odd that so many people choose to be a part of it. It’s weird that, given how easy it is to share, how many people choose not to.

Thanks for reading.

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3 thoughts on “The Quiet

  1. This seems at least partly inspired by a conversation we had not long ago. There’s a line between encouraging discussion and being deliberately inflammatory. You tiptoe on that line but are rarely ever a bully for bully’s sake. The void may seem empty but it’s not, not really.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think a big part of it is finding the spaces online that encourage reasonable conversation – for me that place will never be Facebook, just because it’s such an unknown as to who will see a comment thread and respond. Even if the initial comment thread starts out civilized, as more people join in the thread is exposed to more and more people and inevitably someone’s cousin/childhood friend/freshman roommate is going to join the conversation and start Internet yelling. And the beauty/horror of social media where you know people in real life is that you find out a lot about them based on the comments that come up – sometimes I know I won’t have to wait for a thread to spread outside my network because there are plenty of friends and acquaintances that will make their opinions known without being open to discussion. It’s not necessarily something to end friendships over, but I definitely wouldn’t want it to come up at the next homecoming/church function/family reunion, so it’s nice to keep those spaces separate. I’m very conflict adverse though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I considered it, but I didn’t bring it up because I don’t treat my social media interactions that way. I’m unlikely to filter stuff based on the audience. The act of adding someone as a friend on FaceTwiTumb+ means I reasonably expect everyone to give a response who wants to, and most of this post was about the lack of that response. From here I can’t tell whether that’s caused by their apathy on the subjects (or having nothing to add from what I said), their avoidance of contentious topics and conflicts, or their apathy/personal distaste for me and my opinions. I want to know the opinions of my friends who became plumbers and waitresses as well as those from friends working at NASA, Boeing, etc.. The point, for me, is to share those otherwise lost pieces of experiences that create a more complete picture.
      And, yeah, sometimes what I’ve said online has made real life interactions a bit more awkward, but never so terrible that I’d considered never talking to them again. They’re entitled to their opinion just like I’m entitled to disagree. I get that not everyone treats social media like me, though, and I’m not trying to say that this is the best way to do it. I feel like I can share with everyone I’ve added, and I really just want more people to share with me 🙂

      Like

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