As missiles were launched into Syrian airspace, my Facebook feed once again reminded me exactly how alone I really am in the political sphere. Some were cheering on dropping bombs while others were make strange rationalizations that Trump committing these acts was somehow different than when Obama did so over the previous eight years. Foreign policy experts and over-simplified memes drove me near a point of insanity.
Unfortunately this is now a near-daily experience. Not my insanity, that is more of a fleeting feeling. Rather, it is the incessant flood of extremism that Facebook drives as its bread and butter. Sure, cat videos and photos of someone’s grandchildren are great, but this social media giant feeds off of controversy and confrontation. Debates fuel shares, and likes, and comments on comments. Driving a wedge in the country is just good business for them.
Can you blame them though? Facebook has simply tapped into the most innate, animalistic tendencies of humanity. Need to stroke your ego? Post some highly edited selfie. Feeling lonely? Don’t bother with in-person interaction, just send a message or post a status update to get your fix of likes. Science shows that social media fires up the same brain responses as drugs do. That should scare everyone. To channel Nancy Regan as best as possible, just say no.
(Insert self loathing for an ironically placed gif)
In all seriousness though, what good can possibly come from the way things are going? Everyday, notifications draw users back again and again to Facebook’s feed. Self worth, ego satisfaction, and Wikipedia arguments fuel more and more division among us. I dare say, never has a problem been solved or a mind changed from a Facebook post. This comes from someone who has spent entirely too much of the last decade attempting just that.
What I’ve found is that it is truly all in vein. Yet if we put the phones down and converse with each other, things actually can change. Somewhere in all of the noise is a common ground and a pathway forward. Whether or not people can kick the habit is a much bigger question.