There was a time when social networks were almost entirely involuntary. You had to make that phone call. You had to go to your friend’s house and somehow get that baseball card back. You had to tell your little brother he wasn’t cool enough to join. You had to tell your co-worker why his failure to clean up his own coffee spills impacted your work performance.
If there was conflict, you had to deal with it. You had to pretty consistently attempt these gross, uncomfortable things called human interaction. You had to take something difficult and make it something tolerable. Sometimes it was simple; sometimes it was something much more complicated.
But now? Nearly all of our social networks are voluntary. If you don’t want to go to that party – you don’t have to. If you don’t want to respond to that text – you don’t have to. If you have issues with your coworkers, you can just do what we all do and talk about them behind their back – you don’t even have to confront them! When any social network – whether it be home, work, school, family, your recreation sports team – doesn’t work for you, you almost always have the option to either opt out or talk around it.
So what is the result of all this change? I feel like we’re all becoming our own Godzillas. This wireless world we live in is not unlike that nuclear matter the Lizard King came into contact with, causing us to grow in size each time we refuse to address the conflict in our lives. It gets to a point where we are so big and unwieldy, so cumbersome in our movement, that we can’t help but squash a few things when we make a move.
Sometimes it’s our dignity. Sometimes it’s our friendships. Sometimes it’s the bridge we needed to cross some day in the future.
I say all this as someone who admits to being a part of the problem. We are becoming a nation of complainers. It doesn’t take long to scroll through your Facebook and see everyone jumping on a new issue. It doesn’t take long for people to say really ugly things on comment boards that they would never have the balls to say in person. We choose to air our grievances around the problem, allowing the stress and frustration to slowly build us up into something we don’t even recognize. We can’t remember the things we love to do anymore. We kinda forget what a joyful moment feels like.
So let’s unplug once in a while. Let’s make eye contact longer than a couple fleeting seconds. Let’s find a way to have those icky, uncomfortable situations sooner, offering them out into the open and watching them transform into something far less threatening. Let’s make our world something we aren’t constantly trying to get away from.
Let’s find a new spirit animal. Something that builds us up rather than tears us down. Something that allows us to remember what joy feels like, in its most pure and unbridled of forms.
Let’s be the answer to the question we ask every day. Let’s be a new King of the Monsters, one who has slain the destructive forces before it, ready to take on the inevitable.
Let’s create social networks we want to be a part of. Let’s reward others not for being an asshole, but for that extra effort to be a good person.
The world is here, guys. Let’s make it something we want to be a part of.