Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kittens, Bacon and Self-Control — or, Just Skip That Meme

I was perusing Facebook, minding my own business, when I saw it. I knew it would happen eventually. The hive mentality of social media made it inevitable: take a good idea, make it your own (usually with kittens) and post it. Our Seven Degrees of Bacon world will bring it around to me, eventually — and this morning, it did just that.

I didn't want to see it. It's not my cuppa. In fact, it's my anti-cuppa. I know that, and you know that — but you weren't thinking of me. I just got caught in the trolling net, pressed against your "clever" meme. I think I got a rash from it.

So I did what any self-respecting social media user would do under the circumstances: I hid it.

If all we did was agree to disagree, I could live with it. However, this was more than that: your meme disturbed me. I wasn't "uncomfortable," and you didn't just "push the boundaries." It's not the bacon, or the duct-taped nipples, the smart-ass comments about the bone-head politician you love to hate. It's more. I bet you knew that when you posted it — and that's why you posted it.

Because You Are Right — And If You Share That Information, I Will Come To My Senses.

I already have limited what I see, but, alas, that filter isn't perfect. I can't leave the social media conversation without leaving you — which I know would hurt you deeply. Intellectually, you'd think, "No big deal." But we both know your heart, and it would crack, just a little.

In a true social setting, you and I could have avoided the topic. Well, probably, depending on who else was in the room. If it was your brother-in-law or cousin, I'd be as successfully netted and dragged along. However, in conversation, I would have found a common ground. I would have deflected, or changed the subject, maybe even excused myself to pour bleach in my ears to wash out what I just heard.

However, on social media, you think you're sharing with only the people with whom you agree. We all do. In the thrill of the meme, we hit the "share" button instantly. We forget that social media is one big party where everyone wears their most obnoxious novelty t-shirts — and gnash their teeth at everyone else's t-shirts.

I love you. I love you deeply and with a fierceness that always surprises me. I will hold your hand in the parking lot to keep you safe, give you the plane ticket to get home, drive all night to rescue you if your car stops working. I'll be your safe house, your hiding place.

And yet, on social media, you'll push bacon memes in my face, and I'll push kittens in yours. You think yours are funny/inspiring/truthy, I think mine are harmless. And yet we both have hives.

So today, I showed a little self-restraint: I didn't tweet my smart aleck comment. Somehow, I knew you'd know it was about you, even if I made it vague. Even if I didn't mention the bacon. I knew you'd know. More importantly, I would know.

After that, I skipped something I was going to share. I like edgy from time to time, and so do you. However, this one... It was clever, direct and unflinching. So why did I flinch? I mentally went through my (admittedly modest) list of contacts and saw your name. I knew it would bother you, and I had to choose. I chose you.

This hard-won, late-to-the-game awareness exhausts me almost as much as the social media itself. It's only funny until someone gets hurt — then, depending on your meme, it's "freakin' hilarious" or it's over. I suppose time will tell which I choose.

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