I’m Done Peopling

I’m done with social interactions for the most part. I’ve been so completely disillusioned by people over the past year or so. Online interactions are filled with vitriol and even the conversations that should be healthy and enlightening have become conflicting and bitter.

I was a huge evangelist for online engagement — having been involved in the beta tests of Twitter before they split from Odeo, having had a Facebook profile as soon as it was released from the college student limitation, and even being involved in the earliest formations of now defunct platforms such as Utterz/Utterli and Jaiku.

I’ve all but separated from Facebook due to their increasing encroachment on people’s personal lives and privacy. If not for the few pages I administer for organizations there, I’d be gone. I rarely read much on Twitter and only post there occasionally when I’ve seen something to share. Engagement is all but gone. For a platform that gave us the opportunity to talk with dozens — often hundreds — of people a day, this is now a place to read what everyone broadcasts. There is little conversation. If I actually talk to two people there a day, it’s a miracle.

New networks, like MeWe, are trying to reengage communities, but they’re just not gaining any momentum. People don’t/won’t leave Facebook — even when they’re sacrificing their privacy and personal information — because “everyone is here.” I enjoy the creativity of people on TikTok, but I don’t see that as a place where people have true conversation. It’s fancy show and tell.

Even my engagement with people in public is affected by the negativity that happens online. One cannot attempt a decent conversation without someone referring to a tweet, a post, a meme, et al. that soon becomes a dissenting voice of disagreement or conflict. I find myself biting my tongue and working outside my own personality style just so that I don’t have to get caught saying that one simple thing that’s going to set someone off.

My closest friends and relatives will say things about me — thinking that it’s quite alright to say that I have “an attitude” without any consideration of how hurt I become. They’ll say “Oh, you know Rich is going to have something to say about this” or “I can’t wait to hear how upset he gets when we mention…” Even when I’m trying to be polite and not share ANY conflicting views, they’ll perceive that I’m speaking from anger, disagreement or dissatisfaction. I can state a known factual piece of information — and they’ll respond “what do you want us to do to fix that? Or what can we do to make you happier about it?” As though I’m expecting someone to help me feel better about something I’m not even upset about (or would be)?

I’ve had moments when I’ve tried to act as a reasonable mediator to tense conversations — pointing out both the positive aspects, the misinformation, or the benefits of each side understanding the other — and I’m then judged for not taking a side — or for having the exact opposite mindset that I truly have — just because I’m willing to try to share the benefit of compromise.

And don’t get me started about how people act in public. Oh, wait — this is my journal — I will start it: I see more rude actions in people now than I’ve ever witnessed in my life. In most cases, people don’t even know they’re being rude. They’re asserting their need to get what they want, how they want, regardless of how it makes others feel or the damage they may be doing. This goes for dining out, shopping, and, of course, actions on the roadway.

I’m just done with people. For a person that is identified with Marsten‘s DISC assessment profile of Influence — and one that has the Myers-Briggs type indicator of ENFP — I find this current norm to be very painful. It causes depression, disappointment, and internal conflict.

Even in my career, I’ve found myself asking “if people don’t care about themselves and they certainly don’t demonstrate much care for others, why should I care to help them learn how to be more safe?” I’m sad that I feel this way after more than 32 years of service and while I’m approaching the last few years of this career.