Internet fighting leaves no winners

by Carrie Thayer

thayerca@mnstate.edu

I just got into my first Facebook fight.

It’s not something I am entirely proud of. I’ve been able to ignore the posts proclaiming Chris Kyle a “True All-American Hero,” which manage to brush past his racist beliefs. I haven’t succumbed to accusations from older relatives still questioning Obama’s nationality. I haven’t gone on a frenzy of responding with “Nope.” to half of the nonsense that shows up on my feed.

I’ve been fine and restrained myself like the adult I pretend to be most days.

Then there was the guy, posting article after stupid article, all about how “feminazis” are breaking men’s spirits and are to blame for the cultural stagnation he feels our generation is enjoying.

So, basically, he’s alone and lonely and looking for an excuse. I took the bait. I swallowed his spiel and fought back with long-winded rants about the invalidity of his belief that women have some ulterior, man-crushing motive in their quest for equal rights.

I stayed up until 4 a.m., citing study after study. I answered every single one of his arguments with a snarky retort. Generally, I felt pretty awesome.

And then I woke up the next day.

Even ignoring my grogginess, all of those words are embarrassing. I had been so proud of everything I had said during the fight, but now I just felt like I came off as pretentious. My words just stared back at me — utterances of unnecessary emotion.

This isn’t to say that my arguments were invalid, it’s that the medium is less than ideal.

Facebook is a platform to maintain and build personal relationships, and it’s easy to forget how it can be an untamable access to our lives.

My grandmother, fifth grade teacher and coworkers can now enjoy written confirmation of the weaknesses in my interpersonal skills.

Any future employer could take a cursory glance at my semi-coherent argument and promptly throw my resume in the trash.

It’s difficult to maintain that balance of being invested in social media, while still keeping the necessary distance to retain some privacy.

It’s a slippery slope with how much of our lives are already out there in the cosmos of the Internet. Everything from a satellite photo of your house, your high school yearbook photo and that Harry Potter slash fan fiction you wrote in middle school are available with just a couple clicks of someone’s finger.

Our digital footprint is becoming more visible in our physical lives; sometimes it might be all someone has to judge us.

So, while apps that pull out those stupid status updates from three years ago can be humorous, we have to realize those posts are always available to anyone who wants to look hard enough.

Social media might be a great place to post pictures of food, babies and dogs, but you want to be careful about what you allow to be seen by your friendly masses.

That picture of your drunk buddy Karl with sex organs Sharpied on his face, might seem hilarious now, but give it another year. Our immature actions and feelings are probably better kept in a journal or something else that is more easily destroyed.

So, think before you respond to that baiting post. Some people are dumb, marginally literate and ignorant, but that doesn’t mean you need to remind them of that fact, unless you want to become the pompous know-it-all of the mouth-breathing web lurkers. Does that sound appealing to you?

Anyway, welcome to the Internet, please keep your opinions and emotions safely inside at all times.

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