Three Months of Social Media: A Hate Story

Illustration by Federico Medina

When people say social media doesn’t rule their life, yet they are on it every day, they’re a motherfucking liar. Social media gives us our news, pushes much-needed products we never knew were much-needed, and allows us to voice our opinions and thoughts—sometimes a little too much.

A little backstory here: I quit my job and felt it necessary to take some time off to “get my mind right.” I spent a large part of that first month being a slave to Twitter (Facebook is dreadful, and Instagram is, like, narcissistic much?), answering and dodging questions about why I quit my job in between jokes about cheese, dick and hating Al Sharpton. (Only two of those are jokes.) 

Why do people even need to know about my personal life? Before social-media sites existed, when someone quit, people would keep in touch because they wanted to meet up for lunch or cocktails, possible fucking. It was people they knew, though. These days, internet strangers (good and bad) jump on you from all angles, leaving you feeling as if you just had a ménage à vingt. But a bad one. The worst one ever. 

I started noticing that a lot of people just have a need to say something or ask questions—endless questions. Why have a question on my thought? Unless it’s a “haha,” you can keep it. 

Maybe I’m just feeling hostile because it’s not my choice to hear them. Yet there they are, sucking the joy out of everything. Strangers are ruining your day just because they felt the need to tell you that your thoughts are dumb as fuck, or you look fat, or you should kill yourself because your opinion doesn’t match theirs. Or they create a fake handle that is similar to your handle to harass people. (Who the fuck has the time, energy or obsessive loathing for this?!) It all takes a toll. There’s a lot to be said about choices, and I know I could log off, but at this point, I’m an addict. Tie me off. 

There’s also a lot to be said about social media being a public place for people to speak their minds. It can be great. You can voice your concerns, ask your questions, talk about what you ate for lunch, mention who you’d make sweet love to (Hello, Paul Giamatti . . .), and get a way speedier answer by hammering a business via Twitter rather than actually calling them. On the flipside, there is still all of this . . . speaking. It’s all over your timeline and in your comments, and they’re reporting you because their narrative doesn’t fit yours, AND OMG, OUTRAGE AND TRIGGERING. Urgh.  

I was feeling the burn of hate deep inside within the first 10 minutes of being awake. No one should feel that on top of feeling “like this” in the morning. I started thinking about working business hours just to avoid daytime social media, but then I decided to grow tomatoes instead. I posted it on my Instagram story, and opinions start rolling in. It’s a fucking tomato. Seriously, people. 

In month two, the hate was mounting. Watching adults gang up on people was blowing my mind. The way some speak to the president stupefied me daily. We get it: You detest him. I wrote in my dad’s name on my ballot, so really I don’t give a fuck. The things people say about certain women depending on what “side” you’re on is also wildly uncalled for. It’s sheer hypocrisy. And it’s not just women. It’s men, too. Oh, wait, I mean all genders, non-genders, non-humans, all races, non-races, religions and non-religions, blah, blah, blah. Heaven forbid we say the wrong thing while “grown-ups” are threatening and bullying children, people are killing themselves over words and killing one another over opinions, and lives are being ruined by doxxing. There’s race baiting, twisting words, and people being shamed with memes because they simply had a bad hair day. Every day, it gets worse. I’m now stress eating and rolling my eyes more. I make another appointment to see my shrink.  

Month three, I didn’t want to tweet too early or “like” anything because then people would know I was awake. It was truly starting to overwhelm my being. Socials have become an invasion of privacy and something we’re thinking about way too much. We all know it, but we can’t stop. 

So then, I made a Michael Jackson joke regarding him liking kids’ buttholes. But wait: I made the joke to OJ Simpson because he posted a video reminiscing about MJ on the 10th anniversary of his death. Was it a tasteful joke? No. I get that. But did I make it to OJ “if the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit” Simpson? Sure as hell did. Soon after, a veritable storm of psychotic MJ fans called me a stupid bitch, a pedophile who is projecting (what the entire fuck?!), a racist white girl who hates black men (LOL), a Jennifer Tilly wannabe (not sure how that’s an insult), a whore and a slut. (Valid.) My life was also threatened several times, and one totally “sane” fan even contacted my (former) employer and called for my firing. They obviously just searched out Michael Jackson’s name. The responses seemed to be never-ending and I was consumed for days. And all of this over a joke about a dead dude who can’t see or hear anyone “sticking up for him” in a way that I’m sure he wouldn’t approve of. Although, how well did we really know the man? After a lifetime of loving Michael Jackson, I now despise him. Well done, MJ fans. 

After logging off to write this, I must say my excessive spin into social media left me with a dwindling faith in human kindness. Because while your account may be all rainbows and unicorns, there is a whole other dark side to it. And it’s angry, and it hates you—and me. Yeah, it gave me a human connection when I was bored, cheered me up when I was feeling down (looking at you, mini-pig videos), and made me cringe/laugh while watching those seeking the ultimate real-time approval they so desperately need. But relying mostly on social media to fill my time for the past few months has left me empty, hateful, bitter. I’m not accepted for the thoughts that I own. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but this is the truth of how it left me. So I guess this is some sort of PSA, a warning that filling your days and nights with social media is a true disservice. It’s a drug, and as with all drugs, there should be a warning label. But when it comes to social media, there is no label. Well, unless you like someone that people hate and then you’ll be labeled a “Nazi.” Fun times. 

At least it all made me want to get back to work and detox from social media. (48 hours max, though, okay? Thanks.)

Ali Lerman knows much about comedy, basketball, and celebrating Wu-Tang Wednesday. She’s been writing for sixteen years and still calls her mom with grammatical questions.

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