Something happened recently that made me rethink social media and the relationships they foster. When I first started using Facebook, it was fun to post and quickly became addicting. I had to see who was doing what and what dirty laundry was being aired. Soon I too was putting my life on display. There was an incessant need to have others know when I was happy or sad, who I was mad at, and vague descriptions of my life.
Things changed eventually as I got older and became the topic of the status of others or their subliminal posts. Social media was no longer fun and games. It became a battlefield of mental warfare. I began to see more and more of family drama, relationship issues, and other goings on that really should remain private. And much like Pearl Harbor, I didn't see the devastating attack coming.
It was an ordinary day. I woke up, made my coffee, and scrolled through my news feed on Facebook. A post caught my eye. My husband had used his status as a platform to showcase his feelings. As I read, horror and embarrassment griped me, and hot tears stung my eyes. It was there for the world to see: his dismay at his current situation, his marriage to me. My name was never mentioned, but his Facebook friends, family, and I knew exactly who he was talking about. Now I knew what Hester Prynne felt like as she stood before her entire town, awaiting the adornment of the scarlet letter.
Instead of telling me directly, he chose to tell the entire Facebookdom that he felt his life was spinning out of control and wasn't sure if marriage was right for him. As the sympathy comments began to roll in, I couldn't stand to read any further, and I did what any self-respecting Facebook user would do. I "unfriended" him. Did he notice? No. Did his family members try to contact me? Yes. Did my husband even bother to discuss this with me? No. I was left alone with my humiliation and shame.
Fast forward to present day. Again, the lines are being drawn in the Facebook sand. Except for this time, it was a war between cousins. In Latino culture, cousins are the equivalent of siblings. We grew up together and experienced life together. And no matter the distance we always had each other's back. So it came as a shock to see the passive aggressive posts that began to appear in my news feed from my cousin, Melody. It started as vague posts about being absent from family events to the full out onslaught of those that she disliked...including her own sister. UFC matches paled in comparison to the cyber blows that were being dealt. The Hatfield and McCoy feud not only involved them, but the rest of us were being sucked in, and that was the last thing I wanted.
There was no way that I could wrap my head around the atrocity that was unfolding before my eyes. I could not understand how one could hide behind the veil of Facebook. What happened to speaking in person? What happened to keeping things private. It wasn't only adults who were seeing this, but the younger generation of cousins. They certainly did not deserve the cyber bullying being put on display.
That was when it hit me. What had become of social media? Wasn't it supposed to be a place that kept friends and family connected? To share funny animal videos? To share things that might inspire others? But I was sadly mistaken. It has become a playground for the slighted, vindictive, and the bully. They hide behind memes and passive aggressive statuses. It was "Mean Girls" cyber style.
Facebook and social media, in general, has lost its luster for me. Now I always think before I post and have learned to keep most of my life to myself. Those that need to know will find out the old fashioned way: in person.