Mostly, my Facebook experience is a happy one, filled with other people’s amusing anecdotes, pictures of delicious food, heartwarming snippets, cute kids, and kittens. I carefully curate my friends list and those whose notifications I see to keep it this way. I know it’s a bubble, not representative of humanity as a whole – and that’s how I like it.
This week I’m seeing chinks in my bubble, if I may mix metaphors. Of course, my friends are all lovely right-thinking (that is, left-leaning) people; but some of them, through no fault of their own, have other friends or relations who are not. I’m also in a neighbourhood Facebook group that does not screen for membership on the basis of whether or not you’re an asshole.
So it’s disheartening to discover that there are actually lots of Americans out there who conform exactly to the stereotype of the closed-minded, ignorant, xenophobic American the rest of the world often thinks of. The type I never encounter, to my knowledge, in real life. And, because they conduct their Facebook business mostly in their own hate-filled bubbles of like-minded people and jingoistic militaristic gun-totin’ Fox-news-watching memes, I can’t tell whether there are in fact more of them out there than sane, decent people or not.
Which is worrying.
I don’t think Irish people are inherently better than Americans. I imagine the ratio of assholes to non-assholes is probably about the same everywhere, give or take a few culturally specific beliefs or practices. And Facebook assholes might even seem like perfectly nice people if I met them out and about, seeing as how I’m a non-threatening white soccermom type who doesn’t fly the flag of her feminist anti-gun tree-hugging liberal pro-equality leanings at the supermarket checkout. I don’t often even wade into the fray online, though I’m not above a little passive-aggressive point-scoring grammar/punctuation/spelling correction when moved.
A friend asked this morning whether things are getting worse or she’s just getting older. I have to confess to having the same thoughts myself lately. On the whole, to save our sanity, I believe we have to decide that there’s just as much good as bad out there. That sometimes, often, there’s more.