This is Week 1 of GOOD Morning Wilton editor Heather Borden Herve‘s “50 Weeks of Change” series, “A Year-Long Journey of Rediscovery, Renewal and Rededication” in commemoration of her 50th birthday this year.
You’ve heard of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which causes depression typically during the winter months? I think I have SMAD–Social Media Affective Disorder. The state of things on Facebook–particularly as it relates to Wilton–has reached a distressing, boiling point.
We have online groups that once were meant to be informational, but which now allow insulting and offensive remarks to go unchecked. There are Facebook pages where people can band together to publicly share their distrust of town officials, or post memes that poke fun at one another’s political affiliations, rather than encourage true dialogue between people who may not always agree but who don’t stoop low.
Publishing an online news website means I spend a good deal of my life online. I have told myself and others that even when I don’t want to be online, I have to be online, to know the pulse of the town, to read what people are saying, to find out their concerns about town issues, and to see where the news stories are developing. There’s another acronym for that–FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. But with a general rise in political polarization and a substantial decline in civility of late, I realize how much of a personal toll it takes.
It’s genuinely depressing to see a steady stream of people stooping low. Even worse, these incidents are often readily available and viewable to people outside Wilton–potential new residents, or neighboring townspeople who might have considered spending their dollars in Wilton businesses. Or potential and current employers, friends, associates, you name it.
Enough. Even by simply keeping membership in online pages like this it lends a certain substance and credence regardless of whether I participate or simply ‘lurk.’ Silence is both permission and validation, and both can ultimately support the damage that’s being caused–to the town, to people I care about, and to me.
So this week, I’m doing a virtual cleanse. I’ll be signing off of some of the groups that do more harm than good. And as for that FOMO, I now see what staying on those pages will make me actually miss out on–peace and peace of mind. That is certainly something I don’t want to miss out on at all.
My dear Heather,
In my opinion, the liberal party should be advocating freedom of speech. Afterall, liberty is defined as freedom. Some would interpret your comments as bullying and shaming those with a different view. We teach our children to discourage bullying.
In any event, happy birthday to you. Fifty is indeed a milestone, I vaguely recall passing that some time ago!
Hello Ed, Nowhere did I say those commenters/posters shouldn’t be able to express themselves. I simply decided to remove myself from their forum and conversation. There’s clearly a difference between different opinions and ugly language. By your definition, if I call out offensive and divisive language or wide generalizations of groups as damaging, hurtful or even simply unpleasant, then I’m bullying? I teach my children to stand up for tolerance and mutually respectful discourse, and I believe there are ways to have conversations between people on different sides of the political fence that don’t involve hurling insults, name-calling and stereotyping.
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