Social media is changing your perception of the world

It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget sometimes, and forgetting is probably the worst thing we can do.

I see this problem a lot with people involved in social justice. People who have genuinely good intentions of raising awareness of worthy causes. They want to be on the forefront of social changes. I get that; I feel that way, too. But everything from the types of sites you visit to the people you surround yourself with all mold and color the world that social media shows you. And it’s easy to forget that it’s not the whole truth.

My old Twitter feed, for example, would have me think the world is consumed by “GamerGate” and the gender controversies of gaming. Everyone I know and respect would be tweeting their support and/or criticisms, and then of course an endless stream of arguments would ensue as a result. It wasn’t until I was sitting face to face with a group of friends that I was shocked back into reality.

“Anita Sarkeesian.”

“…who?”

“Seriously? Feminist Frequency? She did that whole series about feminism in gaming? She’s spent the last couple of years getting harassed by MRA idiots?”

Then, the real kicker:

“…What’s the MRA?”

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I just stared blankly, realizing I had spent about ten minutes ranting over coffee about something my friends were oblivious to. I envied them, because the mongrels who stalked and doxxed Sarkeesian a few weeks ago—forcing her to flee her own home—had infuriated me. But while I was pondering their stupidity and sheer willful ignorance, most of the world went on happily unaware. And eventually, I came to the frustrating realization that the only person giving these pathetic neckbeards any power… was me. I had fallen down a social justice rabbit hole. I had done so with the best of intentions, and yet still lost all sense of size and proportion. The MRA-types looked like a huge, unmovable threat. Marching ever forward with their pitchforks aimed at the ideals I held most sacred.

The reality, of course, is that if any of these dweebs ever got up the courage to actually say anything to me in person, I would most likely laugh right in their faces. I experienced a similar situation in high school when a hyper-fundy Christian felt the need to give me the “Do you believe in God? You should. He believes in you…” spiel. I tried really hard not to laugh. I did, I swear I did. But I failed, just as I would inevitably fail not to laugh at the painfully awkward gamer who decided I needed to hear his wondrous insight. It’s all just way too sad.

This phenomena doesn’t just affect the way we perceive the world; I see it affecting our health, too. Yes, that sounds very granola of me, but that’s what my observations have led me to believe. High profile feminists and social justice people have talked openly about struggling with depression and anxiety. Just like a shitty job where you get yelled at all day, social media also often becomes a venue through which people tear you down, only that’s without pay.

I eventually couldn’t find a reason to stay on social media. I was being bombarded with articles that could ruin my afternoon, every afternoon. People complaining about the awful dregs of society, and of course, the dregs themselves always managing to pool around the bottom. It made me angry, when in my real life, I had nothing to be angry about. When in fact my real life is full of happiness, love, and friendship. So why waste my time?

And why waste your time?

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