Friday, June 29, 2012

The Airing of Grievances.

"I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're gonna hear about it!"
photo credit

We've all seen it. It's plastered on Facebook and Twitter daily, hourly, secondly.

The airing of grievances. 

"Well, my baby daddy told me he was comin' to get dis child, and he neva showed up, he a loser, I don't know why I screw wit dudes like him, he worthless, said he was in a car wreck, that looser* betta hope he wrecked, cuz imma send my new boyfriend afta his sorry butt." 

or

"If you got something to say to me, why don't you say it to my face? I'm not going to mention your name here because that would be too obvious, instead I want to keep this anonymous so that maybe you feel like it's your fault even though it's not your fault." 

When did social media become a sounding board for every disconsolate single mom, frustrated spouse, discontent family member, and opinionated TapOut wearing muscle head? 

Before we continue, I understand that there are ways to ignore these people, and not see any of the content they post. I know that. But that's not addressing the problem. 

Also, I really don't mind the political bashing, or bashing of Christians or atheists or pro-lifer or pro-choicers. As Christians, I don't think we need to let folks know that they're all going to hell, but in the same token, if you aren't singling someone out, let your opinions fly. Free speech and all that. I'm really focused more on specific individual bashing, friends, family, or otherwise.

A few nights ago, I got into a fight with one of my brothers. Imagine that. Fighting with a brother. About midway through the argument, I picked up my phone and another brother looked at me and said, "Are you about to Facebook this right now?" 

I just stared at him. 

"Absolutely not. Why would I do that?" 

Up until mentioning it here, no one knew that I had a fight with my brother except the other brothers and my wife. That's how I choose to run my life. I don't feel the need to express to the masses that I'm upset with someone, or that people in my family sometimes annoy the bejesus out of me. I think that's a given. If you've known me for more than ten minutes, you've probably seen me argue with one of my brothers. 

On the other hand, I want to share the good times with you. I want you to know that my daughter got saved, or that I'm happy to be celebrating nine years with The Missus, or that our son caught an enormous fish. 

So why the good and not the bad? 

I like to think you have enough of your own problems without seeing mine too. And while I love attention MORE than the next guy, I don't want that attention to be focused on the negative aspects of my life. And believe it or not, this costs me. 

I got a message a few weeks ago from someone telling me that they had honestly never liked me because I seemed stuck up and "better than everyone else." Then, upon reading "The Road," they realized that I had problems like everyone else, and their opinion of me turned around. 

I could not have been happier. I apologized to the person for my aloof attitude, and assured them that I had my fair share of issues. If you're reading this and you'd like to know a few of them, here you go. 

The Missus and I fight about money. I like to spend it, and she has to be the bad guy and tell me not to. I struggle with the fact that our kids don't like me very much because I come off as a stern disciplinarian and don't spend as much time with them as I think I need to. I've struggled with internet pornography for years, and just in the last few years have I gotten it semi-controlled. I'm narcissistic and cynical, but I believe in the basic good of people. I love Jesus, but sometimes I cuss a little. I'm currently paying someone to take a college class for me. I can't stand eating dinner at the table with my family, I like to watch TV when I eat. I'm selfish. I'm a very jealous person. I can be just a touch misogynistic in my words and actions. I struggle with my tolerance for certain things that I was raised to not tolerate. I struggle with control issues. I used to be mean to animals. And I can't stand your driving. 

There. If you thought for one second I don't have problems, there. 

"After all, we all live in Hyde Park. We all have our dragons."**

But Travis, isn't airing them here the same as telling Facebook and Twitter about them? 

Well, let me ask you this. Do you enjoy engaging with me on the social platform? If so, ask yourself why. Is it because 99% of my statuses are lighthearted and joking? I'm going to step out on a limb and say that hopefully you answered yes to those questions. 

On the blog however, you have to digest the good with bad, and it's not a three second glance over 140 characters and a quick dismissal or press of the "Like" button. You've committed to reading all of this, or most of it, and so it's less of a constant barrage of negative streaming onto your cell phone or computer screen. Also, I'll usually warn you that a blog is a "thinker," and not a normal, funny, make you laugh so hard you spit coffee on your keyboard and then pee your pants blog. 

Another reason is, when I'm on social media like Facebook or Twitter, I genuinely want to make you smile or laugh all the time. Sometimes I want you to think, and sometimes even cry, but I never want you to say, "Wow, I wish Travis would shut up with all that negative talk about his wife." I want something that makes you feel.

Some will accuse me of pandering to people's sentimental and emotional side. I'd ask those people to read my blog. I keep it real here. 

So why do people feel the need to bash their exes, their family, and anything else incessantly on social media? Is it because they aren't getting the attention they feel they need from people in real life? Is it because they get a thrill out of exposing someone for who they really are over the Internet? I really wish I had the answers for that. In fact, at the risk of becoming somewhat Maury-like, if you're a constant basher of people on social media, why don't you anonymously weigh in with a comment here. Tell us what makes you tick. 

As for me, and thankfully for The Missus and my family, we will continue in the tradition of leaving each other alone on Facebook and Twitter. I am proud of that fact, and I hope you'll consider joining me in making your social media feed a bit more positive. Focus on the good people have done for you. If no one has ever done anything good for you, why don't you start by doing something good for someone else? The feeling you'll get might be status worthy. 

In the words of mothers for generations:

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." 



*I absolutely misspelled that on purpose. Don't think for one second I don't know the difference between loose and lose. 

** "The Oath" - Frank Peretti