While doing my PhD in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde, I met a wonderful, loving and balanced guy who became a mentor and friend. After leaving college, we lost contact but later found one another on facebook. A gap of twenty years meant that much had changed of course but still, it was good to reconnect. But people change.
The problem with Facebook is that you see people’s bad side. Their obsessions and worries. I know I show mine all of the time and I sometimes decide to change my approach to Facebook and not use it as a place to express my frustrations…… However, my friend began posting quite a lot on politics. His postings and comments got more and more, well, strange. He developed an absolute hatred for Trump – I would say it was an unreasonable hatred for someone unaffected by the US President. I engaged him a few times but found not the man I had adored so much at college but a bitter, frustrated and judgmental person instead. I was deeply saddened by this but more so by his change in approach. Gone was the thoughtful, loving, balanced, non-judgmental persona I had met all of those years ago. It’s difficult to explain but everything I said was challenged, ridiculed even…. If I wrote an alternate viewpoint, I was instantly condemned as a Trump supporter… I think all who know me would know I detest the man. I guess I pushed the envelope eventually in my own way by posting on one of his rants something he truly objected to for he not only unfriended me – but he blocked me too.
So again, the beautiful spiritual soul that I had met all of those years ago had now turned into an angry and opinionated individual who would block the person he once mentored with words about balance, harmony, love and forgiveness….
I blame social media.
It allows you to surround yourself with what you post about. Suddenly, it is your echo chamber essentially supporting your viewpoint and providing you with more and deeper ideologies and opinions….. eventually, your frustrations turn to anger. Social media is weaponizing us all.
I’m more than determined to make sure I am clear about the echo chamber thing. In fact, quite honestly, I’d like to learn to use social media simply to express gratitude and focus on art. I think that is what it needs. I remain open to welcome my ex-friend back with open arms and I hope he may see how he has changed…. I wish him well.
This is not the first time I have seen this. I doubt it will be the last.
Maybe I should have just left him be and not engaged him at all….. but wouldn’t that be simply helping to build his echo chamber?