I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed the longer I hang around the virtual water coolers of social media. I come here looking for intelligent — or even semi-coherent — discussion about the things I find important. Instead I find virtual MAGA hats and pictures of steak. Periodically, there are the bright spots — the serious debate, the meeting of minds, the connections with others in disparate parts of the world — but most of my time is wasted by so many tedious attempts at snark, or deliberate misreading, or simply the refusal to fight the impulse to join the hive mind.
It’s boring. It’s empty. I’m tired.
Yet, this is how we communicate now, us plebs. Those of us without an outlet for our intellectual inner life find solace in the fact that someone, somewhere has heard us. If someone has heard our opinions on steak or exercise or pizza toppings, then we aren’t really alone, right? We can avoid the reality that the vast majority of us are rather inconsequential to anyone outside our immediate sphere of influence.
Being inconsequential is actually okay, if you think about it. We live so much of our lives looking outside ourselves for so many things — love, validation, worth — that we forget that it doesn’t matter whether anyone “hears” or “sees” me, validates me, thinks I’m special. What matters is acquiring information, accruing knowledge, navigating life in a way that does little harm and much good to those I’ve chosen to form community with.
Because being human is about connection. Real, human connection. Looking someone in the eye as you speak to them. Learning how to read people. Discovering empathy and the brutality of hurting for someone else, not just being hurt by them.
And some days we write essays to talk ourselves out of publicly humiliating insipid, inarticulate, digital hillbillies, desperately attempting to remind ourselves that we should practice compassion and not tell them to shut the fuck up already I don’t give a shit what Sean Hannity said.