I Might Just Opt Out of Social Media for a While

Like many other people who are my peeps, I start my day off with some online news, peruse a couple of blogs, check Twitter (my tweeps), and sometimes even jump over to Facebook.

But I think that I am going to opt out of social media for the next month or so.  For me, it’s pretty simple.

I am hatin’ the hatin’.

Believe me, I am a First Amendment guy.  Most of the free world does not enjoy the freedoms that we do (read: China) when it comes to expressing individual opinion, especially via a vehicle that is targeted for mass distribution, like blogs, Twitter or Facebook.  But for me, it’s depressing as hell to open up social media tools and see so much venom spewed regarding the upcoming elections.  Again, see above — I am a First Amendment guy — but I am so tired of reading what are supposed to be either pithy or downright mean-spirited comments from both sides of the political aisle.  It’s a depressing way to start the day.

For example?

  • “If I was [sic] John McCain, I would have insisted that the debates not be shot in HD.”
  • All of the McCain-Palin signs have gone missing from my neighborhood. And I thought Obama transcended politics.”
  • My neighbor got a new McCain-Palin sign. In fact, now he has two. Take that Obama sign stealers.”
  • Example #4980 why Congress is broken: The bailout vote was technically on the “Paul Wellstone Mental Health & Addiction Equity Act of 2007.”
  • Is the economy fixed yet?”
  • Is there anything about McC that you find NOT hypocritical lately?”

All of these represent Tweets or status updates that I have seen in the last week – hence, my decision to try to Opt Out of Ugliness.  You see, I have lived and worked in the nation’s capital since 1987 and have never — ever– seen such venom on both sides of the political aisle.  I am pretty sure that it was always there, it is just that the social-media-Hyde-Park-Speaker’s-Corner-Soap-Boxes did not yet exist.

So for all of you out there who are exercising your constitutionally-given right to express your political views, have at it.

But I can’t believe that I would EVER quote him — but of all of people, Howard Stern often said “if you don’t like what you are hearing, turn the radio dial.”  So for a while, I am out of the ugliness.




  1. I’ve been trying to tone down myself. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Mark Story Says: October 12, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Thank *you* for the comment as well as for reading.


  3. mark, what if we hate you?

  4. Mark Story Says: October 12, 2008 at 8:26 am

    A distinct possibility.

  5. Lindsey Brothers Says: October 12, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Happy to hear somebody else feels the same way. I use to say “I am always interested in hearing both sides from my Dem. and Rep. friends,” but I have updated that to, “I’m tired of hearing it.” Recently I was catching up on some posts from a digital blogger that writes for a very respectful communications publication. He has never included politics in his digital blog until last week. I liked the guy at first because he got right to the point in his posts, but the other week he sneaked in a quick punch at a political candidate and our military and thats when I broke. I never commented on his post until that day. I expressed my disgust and told him that if he is going to write like that he should go join ____ (I’ll leave that newspaper blank for now).

    I’m tired of reading anything that somehow throws in a punch here and there when it is completely out of context. I’ve never read such petty comments about candidates until this election. Just to throw some examples out, here are some recent ones that I read last week:

    “From the media I learned Sarah Palin’s husband has a DUI conviction
    from 22 years ago and he got caught fishing without a license once.”

    “I learned that Ted Kennedy was drunk while driving a car off a bridge in Chappaquiddick. That same crash killed a young campaign volunteer with whom he was having an affair. Oh, and that woman was pregnant with his child.”

    “When Barack Obama announced his first senate run, he did so in the home of William Ayers. Mr. Ayers is an un-repentant terrorist convicted for bombing the pentagon. This same Mr. Ayers said on 9/11 that he and his group did not do enough to harm our military and he wished he had done more. During the same time as that comment, he was serving on a board with Barack Obama. All notes and information about their serving together is now locked up by the corrupt Chicago machine and reporter access to those records are being blocked by the Obama campaign.”

    Okay, I’m tired of reading this stuff when I’m trying to get real information from whatever article I’m reading. I’m looking forward to this election being over.

    Whew, I feel better now that I got that off my chest!!

  6. I can completely understand that. It is great to have our Freedom of speech but we cant help how people may feel or express themselves. Specially now that there are so many forms to express ourselves.

    Unfortunately, I feel that this campaign has defenitely brought out a lot more emotion and involvement than any other. People are very passionate about their candidate on either side and will go to the end to defend them, and in cases like these will say anything to make their candidate look better. I feel it’s a desperate call for a transformation in our government that has brought out the worst in people.

    I don’t think it’s actually possible to avoid seeing or hearing any of this unless we completely close ourselves from the world. It’s outthere; even if we want to avoid it, there’s something in us that won’t keep us completely away.

  7. Adriana Gallegos Says: October 12, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I can understand that people are tired of listening to all the negative ads and awful comments that are out there about the candidates. As Howard Stern said “if you don’t like what you are hearing, turn the radio dial.” During election time it is usual for people to get very passionate about their candidates and they should have the freedom to express their opinions. It is up to an individual to stay grounded on their own beliefs or get influenced by all the negativity that is out there.

  8. Sure there’s some hate. But I think it’s an opportunity. One of my good friends and I have had some fun on Facebook talking trash. When she said that there was a direct relationship between Obama’s points being up and the crash of the stock market a few weeks ago, I almost severed all ties. That a silly statement no matter who you support. But then I hit her with some links to economics 101, then blasted her with a links to online newspapers, then some “6th-Grade Back-Of-the-Bus” humor and then an “I Love You.” I think people shouldn’t be afraid to talk and share ideas, no matter how wrong, ridiculous or hate-filled. I think it’s better they be aired out and argued. Otherwise you just have a bunch of angry, hate-filled, but more than likely scared and anxious people fuming by themselves before they go to the polls. That to me is much more frightening.

  9. Becky Richardson Says: October 13, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Do you think it may start with the MSM? There seems to be an abundance of “mean-spirited” comments in lieu of unbiased coverage.

  10. Lindsey Brothers Says: October 13, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Here is a WONDERFUL piece from the Washington Post that was just published today (10/13) about “mudslinging.” This isn’t new, its been going on since the 1800’s.

    Did you know that, “Thomas Jefferson was …. depicted…as a drunken anarchist, and the president of Yale warned that if Jefferson came to power, ‘we may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution.’ A Connecticut newspaper warned that his election would mean ‘murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced’…”

    This is an article that you’ve GOT to read…

    Washington Post
    “Stuck in the Muck”


  11. Aimee Saldivar Says: October 13, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Are we on second-grade playground with these candidates? Yesterday, in Clifton, VA, we had our annual town fair called Clifton day. Every year there are supporters promoting candidates for the current election, whether it is presidential or local, and it spoils the fun of being out at a fair. What was even more interesting out of hte last eight years that I have attended this fair is the woman that was wearing a Wonderwoman suit, literally, with Palin’s hairdo (or as I would say “hair-don’t”) and the glasses asking people to vote for her. How degrading! This is getting to become a three ring circus!
    We have more important issues like figuring out how more students can get financial aid to support their educational endeavors, poverty in the US or better yet, research and insurance coverage for Autism by medical providers. There are families sacrificing everything they have worked for to make their American dream come true for their families and are barely able to stay afloat with medical bills from an illness that doesn’t have a cure yet.
    I also received an interesting email about Obama talking about his history and access to money overseas and how he paid for his Ivy League education. What does he know about student loans? How is he going to fix this economy? How do I know if I can attend next semester when this new administration kicks in?
    I am so sick of also hearing the same thing with each of the candidates. I found the Tonight Show with Jay Leno to be quite hilarious when he had comedian Jay Mohr (from Saturday Night Live) as his guest. He mentioned that both he and Jay Leno should be in the presidential running because that way they could get real comedians in the White House. Jay Mohr ran through who would be part of the presidential staff with actors/comedians such as Tracy Morgan as the Secretary of State, Christopher Walken as the Speaker of the House and so forth. I agree, let’s get the real comedians in the White House, since the fools running have bad punchlines to all their speeches filled with 4th grade cut-downs. Answers anyone?

    Your right Lindsey, this did feel good to get off one’s chest. Online therapy, what a relief!

  12. Let the online therapy continue. The doctor’s office is always open – virtually.

  13. Part of me agrees that if you don’t like what you hear, turn the dial – which is what you will be doing. However, the other part thinks that in some social media where you are a frequent writer/visitor, an educated and meaningful opinion could make an impact on those who seem to write garbage about the upcoming election.

    This past spring we opened an exhibit at work and I sent releases. One writer chose to focus on the fact that a famous athlete loaned a couple items to the exhibit rather then the actual exhibit.

    He went on to criticize the athlete for some of his past actions rather than to focus on the fact that he gave the items to be used because he has made early education his purpose and loaning these items would help educate people about African American history – a subject that means a lot to him. It was funny that the people who gave educated and reasonable responses back to him were actually more interesting to read.


  14. Thira Sannikorn Says: October 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I would say that it is true to say “if you don’t like what you are hearing, turn the radio dial’ as we hardly avoid from those social media. However, I do believe that it sometimes can be opportunity to see and hear all those individual opinions. I do agree with Mike that “people shouldn’t be afraid to talk and share ideas, no matter how wrong, ridiculous or hate-filled”. I think as we are in the freedom world where people have chance to express their own ideas, there is nothing right or wrong to do so. Also, from that airing, I do believe sometimes we always hear some good things.

  15. Here’s an interesting article that was on CNN this morning. It discusses online rumors, referred to as e-rumors, surrounding the presidential race and how the campaigns are dealing with it.

    While Mark’s post focused on people’s rantings and the “venom” they are spewing, this shows what can happen from their blogging.


  16. Coming a little late to the party here, but I share your feeling/concern. It’s disheartening to say the least. I think online discussion has the potential to pull the nastiness out of people, for some reason: whether it’s tweeting after a few beers or just the “anonymity”–or more to the point the fact that people aren’t face to face–people have forgotten how to self-censor.

    Which is really the critical element, isn’t it? Self-censor, so no one has a reason to do it for you.

    As a former co-worker’s mom used to say, “now, don’t be ugly…”

    Did you see Chip’s piece “Amateur Coarseness threatens social media”? Similar theme.

  17. Anca Bilegan Says: October 16, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I always thought that politics is very skilled in bringing hate upon it. There are always 2 sides of a story, each with its fervent advocates and opponents and the conflicting opinions are more prominent during presidential campaigns because most of the people care and most of them want to be part of the presidential campaigns in a way or another and the easiest way is by talking about it. I actually enjoy the variety of political opinions expressed in US. I have lived almost all my life in Romania a country that fits Mark’s description: although Romania is part of the free world, it does not enjoy the same freedoms that Americans do when it comes to expressing individual opinion.
    Of course, sometimes it gets ugly, but I think politics imply this risk.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Follow by Email
%d bloggers like this: