It's been a while since I've felt like posting anything here. Over the last few months I have taken a big step back from social media. I have found that when I log onto Facebook and scroll through my News Feed, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of information that spews out and underwhelmed by its substance. I don't mean to suggest that my life and thoughts are so much more interesting than the rest of the world. Instead, I don't free the urgency to share every single thing I do or every single thought that crosses my mind. These days, I do a quick weekly-or-so scan through Facebook and go about my business.
One huge benefit of all of this is that my head feels so much clearer. At my peak of online activity, my head felt as if it were being cooked in a microwave with rays penetrating my skull and slowly frying my brain. When I initially became aware of this, I decided to enact a No Internet Sunday rule for myself which consisted of not going online at all unless there was a specific urgency. Otherwise, it's all about reading, writing, and listening to music. I won't pretend that I've adhered to this fully but I can say with confidence that there has been a huge change for me.
Over the last few years, I've been alarmed at the downside of being a virtually connected society. Once upon a time, if you screwed up royally you were less at risk for having a black mark attached to your name for the rest of your life. These days, if you do something stupid or commit an action due to some temporary lapse in judgement, it's too easy for that to be documented, uploaded, and stored for posterity. Some young people appear to be especially oblivious to this idea as they post pictures of their intoxicated selves or share information best left unshared. The concepts of forgiveness and redemption are harder to come by once your transgression has made its way to Google and the all-knowing Cloud. I had an experience a few years back where a handful of people decided that a minor error of judgement on my part merited four pages of Google results with my name attached that should stay with me until the end of time. These people, with seemingly little time on their hands, felt that the rest of my life should be tainted for something that wasn't my fault but that I was accountable for. Thankfully, this was all before Twitter and Facebook so it was very easy to mitigate the damage although some of it remains years later.
All of this was on my mind this week because I saw a photograph taken on an airplane flight of a man who was restrained in his seat with duct tape and plastic ziplocks along the lines of what police use to arrest rioters. The man was allegedly intoxicated and became abusive to passengers and the flight crew. I fully support the decision of the flight crew to restrain this man if he were presenting a huge safety risk. What angers me is that the person sitting across the aisle from him found it necessary to humiliate this man further by taking his photograph and posting it online. Again, the behavior of the passenger merits appropriate punishment. My hope is that the man is given an opportunity to seek whatever help he needs to address the root causes of his actions. But no matter what he does, the documentation of a single regretful act will be around forever. Somehow, it seems unfair.
I really want to know what went through the mind of the person who uploaded that picture. Was it because he/she was subjected to this man's abuse? Was it because he/she wanted to help create the next hip internet meme? I find the whole thing shameful and disgusting. Something like this makes me want to retreat further away from the online world.