I am prone to Facebook tirades and lengthy arguments with people who think about things differently than I do, and with people that are just trying to get my goat.
These arguments are typically about issues of justice or equity, as I see it. In that sense, the issues are of great import. But in another, the tiresome back-and-forth with Internet acquaintances is not important because it doesn't accomplish anything. I also leave them feeling angry and incomplete.
I am a social media crusader and I don't particularly like it. I like the thrill of the argument, but no one ever wins and a lot of time gets wasted. So there's that kind of social media user.
Then there are these kinds of social media users who produce a whipped cream version of their lives for the Internet. They have pretty faces and wear pretty things and go to pretty places. And it makes me smile. Sometimes I think those people need to wake the hell up and start to CARE about the world and the infernos therein by crusading. But then I meet these folks in real life and they're not bad. They care, mostly. They just save it for the real world. And I think they're happier for it.
So I thought I might convert myself to the sun-dipped sweetness of internet Pleasantville. I pledged to stop crusading and put out lightness for easy digestion of my brand new Facebook timeline.
And now a bunch of people have privately shared that they miss Ashley The Rager. Jeepers Murphy. They learned a lot from her and some people even changed their minds about things! Are you freaking kidding me?
Maybe it's my billowing ego that loves hearing things like that. Or maybe they're right, and I should be exactly who I am in person on the Internet: opinionated, cynically optimistic, sometimes hasty and flustered and obsessed with fairness. In real life, I am not whipped cream and sunbeams, try as I might.
So here is my compromise: I will share content that matters and is well done on issues that I care about. I won't get trapped in dumb arguments. And I will share pictures of extraordinary food and other material pleasures without feeling like I have abandoned my activist roots.
A friend from my grad school/activist days does this really well. She's a radical political science professor who posts delightful pictures of her baking adventures and her adorable family. In her social media approach, I have found a mentor.
Do you have a social media profile that strikes a balance? Write it in the comments, I would love to see!