My Vow of [Internet] Silence

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So, I’ve found that I’m a lot braver on the Internet. Like most people, I am a lot more comfortable expressing my opinions, confronting others, and getting into arguments (constructive or not, though I try to stick to the former). The problem is, 99% of the people I’m Facebook friends with, or follow on Instagram, I know in real life, and sometimes I get keyboard-in-mouth syndrome…

After I got out of the Navy, I got way more into politics (my fiancé and I concluded that this happens because most vets have more time on their hands and nothing better to do than watch CNN/FOX/MSNBC all day), and I began expressing that opinion, and “challenging” (read: arguing with) my friends who posted things I didn’t agree with. Which happened a lot. I love my friends, but a lot of them were posting really radical, propaganda-based garbage and basing their opinions of politicians from them. I personally am a political moderate, I lean towards conservative on some issues, and think more liberally on others. I thought (and still think!) that those that have more moderate views of how our government should function are the ones who are the most reasonable, those with the best chance of making everyone equally happy (or at least equally unhappy…).

I’ve lost friends over conversations about the things they post, which sucks because I really tried to make it clear that I didn’t have a problem with their opinion, I had a problem with how they came up with it! Which I still think is okay, but I admit, I got snarky. A lot. And when you get snarky, people tend to get snarky back, and it gets ugly.

About this time last year, I took a break from Facebook. I didn’t log on, I deactivated my account, and I had no access for a week. It was interesting, not having contact with people, and not checking it every five minutes like I do when I’m bored. I thought about doing that again, but I don’t think I really learned anything from it, except how else to occupy my free time.

So this time, I’m keeping my account active, I’ll still log on and see what my friends say, but I will not “like” or comment – on anything. I need to teach myself how to observe without commenting, kind of a 21st century version of an active listening exercise. I want to control my impulse to throw in my two cents all the time. I want to give my poor friends a break from my incessant commenting (positive, constructive, encouraging, or not). Most of all, I just want to know that I can do it. It’s easy not to comment on stuff when you can’t even access your account, I need to know that I can see (and by that token hear) a conversation going on that I may be really interested in, but not join in. It’s gotten me into trouble entirely too many times, and I end up feeling like a total ass.

So, to any of my social media friends reading this: I’m still here, I’m just being creepy and reading everything you say and not commenting on it 😉

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