Tis the season for holiday parties: office parties, neighborhood gatherings, open houses, family dinners. A lot of social activity with a lot of people. While some people seem to thrive on this, many others would, given the choice, be anywhere but there.
Why is this? First, for the more formal occasions you need to dress appropriately – which is usually not in your most comfortable clothes. You need to mind your manners, bring the right gifts, thank the right people. Watch what you say. Talk to people you don’t like. Pretend that you’re having a good time, and not leave too soon, no matter how lousy the party.
The informal gatherings make it a little easier because you can dress casual/comfortable and only the most basic of manners are expected. But you’re often sharing the room with people you’re not too fond of, or don’t know – and don’t care to know. The only connection may be the proximity of your houses and you may have nothing more in common. What if you enjoy the company of one, but can’t stand their significant other?
Now let’s take a look at a social media gathering. First, you show up (login) when you want, and leave (logoff) when you want. You view only the videos that interest you, read only the tweets that interest you, listen to only the verbal posts that interest you. The rest you leave alone, with no apologies to anyone. Start watching, find it boring, turn it off. No obligation to explain to the other party why you suddenly turned your back and walked away. Imagine putting your hand over someone’s mouth to shut them up in real life.
If the videos are too long, the audios aren’t entertaining, the writing is boring, you stop. No apologies, no excuses, no explanations. No worrying about whose feelings you may be hurting and whether you’ll be running into them at the local coffee shop. No repercussions.
But will this make us better as a society? Or will it make us less tolerant? Will we become unable to look beyond our own demands?