Social media is without a doubt, one of the most exciting inventions of the century. When Facebook came along, we didn’t understand what it was right away but within a short period of time, most of us flocked the local cyber cafes, signed up, and started posting pixelated pictures with extremely obnoxious captions. Since then, social media and its users have greatly evolved.
Today, social media is so much more than just a way to pass time and chat with strangers. It has since become a powerful platform that has revolutionized social interaction and given all people an equal voice to speak their truth and articulate their thoughts and feelings.
For a long time, I wasn’t actively engaged in social media because I didn’t understand it. To me, it was unnecessary and expensive, so I restricted my engagements to a few times a year. After my accident in 2014 however, I went through a dark phase in my life where I felt extremely lonely and lost.
Though bedridden, I yearned for interactions that existed beyond my room. I wanted to talk to people from far and wide, who would treat me like a normal person as opposed to a sickly and paralyzed man. I longed to listen to stories that didn’t involve hospitals, drugs or wheelchairs. I found that in social media; most of the time.
This is the golden rule of social media; You cannot make everyone happy. There will always be one or two who will possess conflicting ideas from you. Some will be aggressive in their attempts to prove how wrong you are and how right they are. You will be resented by a stranger, they will look at all your posts in disdain, yet they will never unfriend you.
Disabled people have always and will always be looked at a certain way. The general consensus is that every time we tell our story, we are soliciting pity. I have fallen victim to this untrue fact many times where some people have felt like I was taking advantage of my situation to mislead people into following me. These people have used very colourful words to describe their scepticism of the things I post and the message I purport to pass.
I once received a message from a woman telling me to log off social and focus on getting well first. She said that the stories I would write about my struggles seemed exaggerated and fabricated. Another lady crawled to my inbox and indirectly told me that there was no way my girlfriend at the time loved me. “She must be after something; do you have money?”. I sat there and marvelled at how insensitive we can be sometimes. What warrants you to force yourself into a person’s life and attempt to dictate how they should run their lives?
Negative comments are to be expected once you put yourself under the microscope of the public. Not to be confused with positive criticism, negative inboxes are like lethal ammunition in the hands of a bitter person. All they think about is how they can cause you pain and break you down.
Is your conscience clear? Are you confident that what you are putting out is in good faith and without malicious intent? If yes, do not take the bile to heart. You are so much more than what a stranger behind a keyboard thinks. Stand up for yourself and hit “block” if you must. Save yourself the energy of trying to convince people that you are not what they perceive you to be. Should you ever find yourself under attack for being yourself, refer to the first rule of social media and make peace with it. “You can never make everyone happy”