You’re reading something that a friend has written in conjunction with a link that they’ve shared, that has appeared on your wall. The topic of said link is something that could be perceived that of sensitive nature. A few comments in response are visible, and you see that there is someone who is clearly passionate about the topic of the story within the link, as their comments are verbose, and in spite of the difficulty of conveying tone through text, manage to carry somewhat of an edge, bordering in almost anger, in their written tone. This is quickly confirmed when you read on, and see that they are questioned, to which their ensuing responses are defensive and hostile.
As the kids would say it, “they mad.”
The thing is, you do not know this angry person, not really. A cursory mouse-over glance at their profile reveals that you have 18 mutual friends. They live in the same region as you do, and/or they have similar interests as you do, and/or they hang in similar niche circles as you do. Eventually meeting this person, might seem inevitable, and almost probable in the future, depending on just how many people mutually known that would increase or decrease those chances of collision.
But based on what you just witnessed to be some of their social behavior, you ask yourself, would you really want to?
This is something that I really dislike about Facebook, and pretty much all other forms of social media. I’ve often had difficulty isolating specific things I dislike about social media, but this is definitely one clear aspect, and I’m eager to put it out in words before the train of thought choo-choos past.
But they’re platforms where I can see people I don’t know behave, and by doing such, whether I want to or not, develop preconceived notions about them.
The example given is just one particular instance, and we as civilized human beings are often told to not be so quick to judge, but let’s face it, that’s not always possible. Especially when it comes to developing a preconceived notion. We see a person we don’t know douche off to another person on Facebook, and whether you want to or not, you might remember that they’re a douche in the future. A person we don’t know goes off like a raging bitch to another person when emotions over a silly topic on Twitter goes overboard, and that first impression of their behavior, online it may be, is that they’re still a raging bitch.
Maybe not everyone has the elephant-like memory when it comes to useless information like I do, but I have to assume that I’m not alone in this train of thought.
Worse off are when preconceived notions are fortified by continued viewings of said offenders behaving similarly, showing up in the comments or conversations of varying other mutual online friends. When preconceived notions level up and become reputations, when negatively connoted, are most certainly not a good thing at all.
It’s not always fair to these people to judge them based on how they act on the internet, but I think every person is lying if they eventually come across these people in person, and are completely capable of suppressing their preconceived notions about the persons suddenly right in front of them, and act as if they’ve met a complete and total stranger, ready to engage in introductions.
I’m not a perfect person, and I have preconceived notions of several people out in my small little world. There are lots of people in the few niche communities that I’m interested in, in which many of my listed friends are also interested in. Naturally, these people all have their own listed friends of their own, to which I don’t naturally know all of them, but when curious enough to peek in on a conversation, I have a tendency to recognize names, especially if their behavior shows some routine patterns.
That’s a repercussion of preconceived notions, because it affects how we may or may not feel about a person, even before we actually meet them in person. And once we have preconceived notions, it’s pretty difficult to get rid of them.
Frankly, the people I see acting like bitches or assholes on the internet, I’m not really that intrigued in wanting to meet them in person if the opportunity presented itself. Even if we have “21 mutual friends.”
And if I meet people that I had preconceived notions about, it’s sometimes a no-win situation. Either they act like they do on the internet, which is like a bitch or an asshole, or they’re something completely else; which occasionally makes me think that they’re a phony in some regard, and I don’t really like phony people.
Sure, there are instances where my preconceived notions might have been completely off-base, and some people are bonafide saints during a proper, personable introduction, but there’s a chance that I’m forgetful of who these people might be and what my preconceived notions of them might have been, because I typically wouldn’t go out of my way to try and meet people I don’t think I’d like.
In conclusion, social media sucks. But it’s become so engrained and intertwined with daily living, that it’s kind of an essential evil. I’ll be the first to admit, that I don’t really feel like being so much of an island of a man again, so I continue to peek into the world of Facebook, just so I don’t end up feeling so isolated from the rest of the world, even if it is a place where I can decide if I like or dislike people, before I actually meet them.