Once upon a time not so long ago I used to have a safe place to escape to, a place I could view happy thing and catch up with friends, friends that I had somehow lost contact with and then found again over the years through the power of the internet. Facebook was a happy place, people shared what they were getting up to, they shared funny and strange things that had happened to them and they posted pictures of their adventures. Facebook was this place where if you were feeling sad, feeling a bit low or just plain freaking out about something you could go to Facebook for a little bit of support from your friends, even just a smiley face or a few simple words could perk you up, Facebook showed you you were not alone, that even if all your friends were hundred of miles away you could still reach out to them at the click of a button (providing you had a good phone/wifi signal).
But since the start of 2015 I have really noticed a shift, a change in my news feed, Facebook has become less about what people are doing and more about their opinions, it has become more of a platform for people to express their views on controversial topics, now I do believe that such things are worth discussing, but there is a down side to this…
I have been trying to think of a way to express what exactly it is I’m trying to say in a way that people will understand…. the question that I feel needs to be asked is:
‘what do you value more, our friendship or your opinion?’
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on a subject, no matter how controversial it is, I also do not expect to agree with all of my friends on every issue (I’m a big animal lover and a vegan, I also know that a lot of my friends are not).
So here it is, social media is a strange world, people generally seem to instantly react to something they see on line, they will straight away type a comment without thinking and click send. I don’t think anyone really considers the repercussions of their instant reactions. A lot of people seem to think that what they say on line is just a comment and people should get over it…. but Its not that simple. When I see someone share a post or update their Facebook status with something I don’t agree with I wont react to it, I will stop and think about it for a moment, I wont comment and I will just scroll past. I do this because I value the friendship, I do not want to upset anyone or end up in an argument.
I wanted to write this blog a few months ago when it happened but until now it has been to raw, I’m still upset by the whole event and it still hurts me, but it is time to put this out there. There is a girl I have known for nearly 15 years, its scary when I think about how long we have actually known each other, we were close, I would often go and visit her because more often than not I was the single one with less commitments. I always made an effort to see all my friends, even when I had just gone through a bad breakup, just moved back in with my parents for a bit and had less than no money I still went to her wedding. But when my illness got a lot worse at the start of 2015 I noticed I wasn’t seeing or hearing from her that much, it seems that when I couldn’t physically make an effort there was no contact. I brushed it off as one of those things, people get busy so I tried not to dwell on it to much. But then things began to happen, I posted something on my Facebook page that I thought would be helpful to people, it was information on what you should do if you hit an animal with your car and its injured, I thought this was very helpful information so I shared it…. well this I guess sparked her interest and showed me that she was still out there, she did not agree with this information and basically in her opinion there are to many deer in the world anyway and they need to be killed. Now this upset me for a couple of reasons, firstly because her comment meant that she had seen my status updates where I expressed how alone I felt and how unwell I was, she had chosen not to say anything nice, instead she chose to find this post and leave a comment that she knew would upset me. If it had been someone who didn’t know me very well then it wouldn’t have hurt so much,but she knew me, she knew how I feel about animals and she still felt the need to comment anyway.
Now the thing I am really struggling with is the thought process that goes before a person posts a comment, I like to consider the following points before I post a comment:
I asked her why she felt the need to post comments that she knew would upset me rather than just scroll past, and her response shocked me.
Her reason was I had posted something on social media and she was entitled to her opinion, so tough, live with it, if you don’t want negative comments don’t share it.
To say I was shocked is putting it lightly, I felt like I had just been beaten down by a close friend in a very cruel way. I personally would never say something to someone in cyber space that I would not say to their face, if I know a friend loves something I hate and they post something about it I am not going to express my hatred for it on their Facebook page, because I respect our friendship, I just scroll past.
This event was the start of me becoming self-conscious once again, I felt as if I could not be myself. So for months I stops putting things on my page. then something happened that was a cause very close to my heart, it was to do with rabbits, now even someone who has only known me for a day will know how I feel about rabbits, they are pretty much like my children (I know some people find that a crazy idea and that’s ok).
I shared a post to my page and I quite clearly stated how upset I was by this event, how I had not stopped crying for most of the day and that I would appreciate it if my friends would sign the petition, it wasn’t a big ask, just a click of a button really, it wouldn’t hurt them and it would have been helping out their friend who was very upset, I wasn’t even really expecting anyone to sign it. I did not expect what happened next, it was an even bigger eye opener than before. I received hateful comments from another friend and a cousin (by marriage) both of them knew me very well. I didn’t want to get into an argument so I simply responded with expressing how upset I was and again why did they feel the need to put such hate on the page of a friend who they knew loved animals… their responses were once again shocking:
They were entitled to their opinions, they were not sorry for upsetting me even further, no apology… I cried for days over this event because it meant that the world I thought I knew had completely changed, people were more concerned with expressing their own opinions, no matter what the consequences.
The most hurtful part of all of this was the friend from the the earlier post didn’t comment, she didn’t ask if I was ok, she simply stalked the comments feed and liked one of the most upsetting and hurtful comment posted by my cousin (through marriage). At that point I was so hurt and upset I questioned her on her actions once again, still I received no apology, in fact she demanded an apology from me for questioning her. If this had been a face to face interaction it would have played out like this:
Imagine you are crying in a room somewhere and you are talking to someone about what has upset you, really upset you, then a relative comes over and starts telling you to your face how they agree with this cruel act and tell you they are entitled to their opinion, they don’t care that you are upset, their opinion is more important. You then try to stand up for your self while still crying and ask them why they are being so cruel, the relative responds with a very hateful comment which is overheard by a very close friend of yours, you think your friend will come over and put their arm around you, maybe say something comforting, but instead they pat the person on the back who is making these hateful comments to your face while you are crying, give them the thumbs up and walks away…… now does that sound like something a good friend would do?
The way I look at it is this, if I wouldn’t treat someone that way in real life face to face I will not do it on line either.