​The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Social Media Uncomfortableness

kasey Schumacher

social media uncomfortableness—kasey schumacher—sept 2020

I don't think anyone enjoys being uncomfortable. I know I'm not supposed to write in absolutes like "never" and "always," but really, I can't think of anyone who would say they liked uncomfortableness. Even so, being uncomfortable is often inevitable.

For some reason, I recently started thinking about how I get uncomfortable on social media.

I often get uncomfortable when people share way too much information. Sometimes people use social media as a personal diary, and I feel uncomfortable reading intimate details that I probably would never feel comfortable sharing on the unforgiving Internet. I recall an individual I knew who aired out a lot of dirty laundry surrounding a bad breakup, and I felt as though I shouldn't be reading their post, yet there it was, on Facebook for everyone to see. I also remember aimlessly scrolling through Instagram and seeing a photo someone posted of their recent surgery. We're talking high definition blood, stitches, medical tape, and a gruesome scar. I was not prepared for that. Being the type of person who becomes squeamish at the sight of blood, I kind of gagged before throwing my phone down in surprise and honestly, disgust. Sometimes I wonder what in the world goes through someone's mind when they decide to share graphic information (either visually or verbally). A friendly word of advice – it never hurts to think twice about what you're sharing with the world via the world wide web.

There's another type of social media uncomfortableness that I've felt more recently. Sometimes people share articles, quotes, or stories that cause me to shift in my seat because I realize I have a lot to learn. Sometimes (not always), social media forces me to hold a mirror to myself and recognize my ignorance. This type of uncomfortableness is often quite a good thing because it causes me to conceptualize and understand different perspectives. The process might be uncomfortable, but the outcome typically includes (for me, at least) a more open mind and a humble attitude. Between the global pandemic, the upcoming election, and the ongoing civil rights movement in our country, I think we've all been given opportunities to take a step back, evaluate, and hopefully grow from what we don't know or understand.

Sometimes, however, social media makes me terribly uncomfortable to the point that I question what good could possibly come from participating in this virtual landscape. Sometimes people are so cruel in what and how they say things on social media. This year has also exposed how people use social media as a weapon, a tool to victimize, and a way to cut people down. Reading comment arguments makes me uncomfortable, not necessarily because of the topic at hand, but the way in which people carry themselves online. The seething anger people have as they become keyboard warriors makes me sad for our civilization. It makes me cringe to see how people choose to behave online. I remember reading a quote a long time ago that said something along the lines: "don't raise your voice, improve your argument." I think that concept has gone out the window for many people when they interact on social media. I get it – emotions are high, and people are passionate, especially these days. However, there's a huge difference between being passionate and being a passionate jerk (there is more colorful language I'd like to use, but I'll refrain!).

I shake my head in frustration as I see social media bring out the worst in each other. Uncomfortable conversations need to be had, now more than ever. I'm not denying that point. I'm more so frustrated at the way I see people conduct themselves online. It's easy to click-clack-type hurtful, insulting, and biting words at each other, but that doesn't mean it should be accepted or the norm on social media. I sometimes put my phone down, shake my head, and wonder what our world has become.

Social media uncomfortableness is sometimes gross, sometimes needed, and sometimes absolutely heartbreaking.

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