The Thief of Life

(pic from Washington Post)Season 5, Episode 2 introduced the wireless radio.  Here the DA crew is huddled around listening to King George's address.

I'm sure you know I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan so it won't surprise you that today's blog idea is sponsored by Downton.  This week I got caught up on the two episodes of Season 5 after a long and lonely wait from last season. Episode two had a line from Lord Grantham that I felt compelled to share with you because I literally felt a shockwave run through me when Lord Grantham expressed his opinion on the wireless radio.

He called it a thief of life.

He even said it was a fad.

He said it wouldn't last.

Oh if Lord Grantham could see us now.

I've been chewing on that revelation for 3 days and I'm finally ready to voice my opinion on why it stuck with me.

The Internet is OUR current day Thief of Life.  And if that is in fact true, then I've been robbed more times than all of the 7-11s in the world. 

How many minutes per day have you lost over a post on Facebook that bothered you?  A buzzkill comment on a funny post?  A photo that was meant to be a day lightener is ruined by a stupid comment.  A video clip overshadowed by political banter. A news story that was highjacked by troll comments. 

I honestly don't think a day has gone by in the last year of my life that I didn't do one of the following:
*slam my laptop closed
*exhale loudly and with utter disgust
*rolled my eyes
*exclaimed "are you freaking kidding me with this?"
*wondered why I was friends with someone that posts hateful things
*swear off Facebook
*asked myself why do I do this to myself

It seems like we lost the basic civility we once had at the beginning of Facebook.  In the early days, it was reconnecting with old friends from schools and workplaces, family overseas, and friends we lost touch with.  It was a happy place where we sent a friend request with a little note that said "hey hope life has been good to you" and they replied back "so glad we reconnected - your family is beautiful!"
Civil.  Easy. Breezy.

Wall messages were written, Happy Birthdays were exchanged, family photos were updated, friends were poked, profile photos were chosen.  Fun was had.  You'd sign off Facebook with a feeling of contentment.
Remember when poking was the only thing that might have annoyed you in the early FB days?

And then things started to change.  Facebook got Timelines and Newsfeeds and Groups and Reply Boxes and Likes to Replies and and and and.

People started to use it as a platform, for a soapbox, for a statement.  And that was still okay because things were civil.  People gave benefits of the doubt, people exercised their right to scroll past something that didn't concern them or interest them or have anything to do with them.  They may have scratched their head, or contemplated a thought, but they still remained cool.

But things kept changing.  Friends who you thought you knew at one time in your life started to exhibit unflattering character flaws.  Differences of opinion were no longer politely exchanged.  A simple post about one thing quickly spiraled into a heated debate about health insurance or religious views or who you voted for in the election, and why everything wrong in the world was basically caused by you because you are what's wrong with the world today.  Hurtful, right?

Facebook became uncivilized.

You saw a blogpost that made you laugh really hard.  It was tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted, and a fun read so you shared it and though the majority of friends liked it, someone, of course did not and had to exercise the right to to be offended and offer their dismay in the thread:  "I didn't find this funny at all and it was a colossal waste of time."  Ummm.  Thanks- your opinion is noted and you also destroyed the fun vibe of the post on my page.  To me, when people do that, it's like them walking their dog on your lawn when you're having a party, letting the dog poop in the yard, then leaving it there to stink everyone out, disgust everyone, make everyone ask 'WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT ABOUT?" And finally,  leave the hostess to clean up the pile of poop.  Is that a relatable analogy?  I think so.  Why don't people respect someone else's Facebook page?  I mean if I post something to my page for my friends to see, I'd ask the respect of my friends to respond and react in a civil, cordial way and if they are incapable of that or of seeing my opinion, or understanding the post, then SCROLL ON.  Hell, if it was that offensive (which I never post anything like that), then unfriend me - by all means.  But unless it is something incredibly important like defending children or talking about poverty or animal abuse or something really life altering and important - then use your ability to scroll and move on.

Some people need Scrolling 101.

I guess I've never been one to understand why anyone would go out of their way to be cruel to another person they are friends with on Facebook.  This goes for pages too.  If you joined a group called Sarcastic People - why would you get up in arms over a sarcastic meme and comment "this isn't funny at all."  I mean, you don't like it?  Unfollow the page - you are the one that liked it in the first place.  You're free to go if it's not everything you hoped for and more.

You can control the majority of what is in your newsfeed.  I mean every single one of us probably has one of the following at any given time in our feed: 
The friend that hates the President.
The friend that vaguebooks about hating his/her life.
The friend that comments something negative no matter what you post.
The friend that blames everyone else for everything bad in their life.
The friend that is a fearmonger.
The friend that makes you ask yourself why you are friends with them in the first place.
The friend that makes you gasp.

But back to Lord Grantham as far as the Internet goes, I love it too much to give it up so I am certain I'd let him down in that manner, but I hope I would make him proud of the fact that I promise to use it to make my life better and not worse. I've lost too many seconds, minutes, and hours that have probably accumulated into days of lost precious time over nasty posts, comments and threads.  That's the real thief of life - that's time that you could have spent doing something to make yourself or someone else feel good.

So, like anyone who has been robbed, I'm putting up a security system in the form of accountability for my own newsfeed.  I will not engage in negativity, I will not tolerate unkindness and catty crap, and I will continue to like the hell out of Kitten You Tube videos and photos of food people are making.  These are the things that make my newsfeed happy.  Maybe you find your joy in motorcycle pics, or airplanes, jokes or dogs, books a friend read or art they've drawn - fill your Facebook up with happiness.  Make Facebook a tool to enhance your life, to strengthen your spirit, to boost your mood.  Take the bad stuff and filter it out - get it out of your feed and out of your life. 

Take your day back.  Take your life back. Step back, regroup.  Don't participate in the ugly. Filter. Strain. Hide.

Surround yourself with good as much as possible and watch how easy it is to get back to the great stuff when you do.

Anyhow - these are my thoughts for today because I've lost too much time on the bad stuff.

Until next time, scroll on and live happy,