The Pain of Social Media Doesn’t Discriminate
By now, I bet most of us have been hurt by something someone said on social media. It’s inescapable. I see it happen daily because being on the internet, engaging in social media, is literally my job. Some days I feel physically sick after work. It doesn’t seem to matter who the person is, or what they have or haven’t done, there is somebody out there who is gleefully willing to attack them.
So what can we do as a society about these vicious comments?
Thankfully, nobody is forced to join a group or stay in a group they’ve joined. If the vibe isn’t what you want or like, find another group. There are many out there. Pleading with people to be nice, or for admins to kick folks out, is a waste of time and energy. If you can’t find a group you like, then create your own. Trust me, if you are feeling a certain way, there are many who also feel that same way and will follow you out. That’s exactly what I chose to do.
And so Canby Central was born
A year or so ago, I decided to start a social media group called Canby Central. I was done with the attacks and the snarky comebacks in other groups I frequented. I wanted a group where I could go socialize without worrying about someone jumping me for asking if anyone “heard that boom”.
Quality, not quantity
At first, there were only around 50 of us. We decided that it was better to worry about quality, not quantity. Instead of one or two admins, we recruited a team of seven. They were purposely chosen based on the difference in their personalities and belief systems. This gave us the broad spectrum of wisdom that we needed in order to run the group fairly.
Birds of a feather
Not everyone is the same, and in my experience, when you get all kinds of people in one group, that’s when the disrespect starts. People don’t like socializing with “the others”. We are like birds, and birds of a feather flock together…until they don’t, and then there’s the pecking order that gets activated.
When we come into these social media groups, we try to create a cyber pecking order instead of a cyber living room, and that was what we wanted to address in our group. We all had to relearn how to interact with each other in a way that didn’t create pain., including myself and the other administrators.
Don’t do ugly
Our rules say we “don’t do ugly”. If you come into Canby Central with the intention to divide and cause pain, you get booted the same day. We don’t mess around. As a result, we’ve ended up with a membership of over 2,400, and we have come together as a community.
When a tough topic comes up in the group, all of the administrators stay in close contact and monitor the post. We interject suggestions on better ways to communicate when the comments start to slide in a negative direction, and we eliminate those who don’t want to play nice in the sandbox. There are plenty of other groups that allow that type of interaction, but we simply do not.
We are not alone in this fight for civility
Canby Central isn’t the only group working on relearning how to speak to others on social media.
I asked a local administrator of a social media page in Oregon to comment on this topic. She’s been making an effort to get her members to communicate in calm, respectful ways, and finds it very rewarding.
Amy Erdt speaks out
“I’m part of an admin team for an online community of almost 10k neighbors in an area with a population density of 4,268 people per square. Listening and having conversations with everybody gives us all really amazing insight and perspective.
“Our community isn’t afraid to talk about difficult subjects and we include everyone. There isn’t a hierarchy of power/positioning. We’ve been through horrific poverty/homelessness/gentrification, global pandemic, fires, hundreds of thousands of people and animals evacuated, long power outages that killed people, the extreme heatwave that killed people, riots, protests, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and an almost a civil war. Our community came together to meet the challenges.
“Neighbors work at making things better. Those challenges often come with disagreements regarding root causes and solutions. When people are in pressure cookers, they need more distress tolerance, core mindfulness, interpersonal communication, and emotional regulation skills and tools. We built our communication culture using evidenced-based behavioral health communication strategies. It’s been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.”
Say goodbye to negative energy
According to WeBMD, being in a negative environment, whether it’s in your own home, at work, or on social media, is not good for your health. The stress of social media is something you can do without and it’s easy to eliminate. Take good care of your Mind, Body, and Spirit, and remember that even simply witnessing other people arguing and taking jabs at each other, can affect your own body. It’s not worth it.
That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.
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