The Genocide of Mayberry

-A A +A

By Bill Koch

In another time, in another world, obnoxious people were quickly afforded the opportunity to make radical adjustments to their attitudes.

If changes didn’t come promptly enough, thought leaders of the day employed age-old (and often politically incorrect) tools to help expedite the process. After all, bad behavior, left unattended, had a bad tendency to morph into bad lifestyle decisions.

It was a clean, mostly respectful world, a kind of unsettled Mayberry for imperfect personalities. Freedom of expression generally fell within the comfortable sphere of decency and tolerance. Bullies were often and eventually dealt with more swiftly – perhaps with a tad bit of frontier justice.

It’s different now.

Social media in the 21st century has changed our outlooks and soiled our social filters. Aberrant behavior has become our new norm. Disrespect and rudeness have been woven into the fabric of public discourse, and life has become ugly and old, at least by comparison.

Brazen, in-your-face social interactions are highly esteemed upon culture’s horizon. Civility and the Golden Rule? Who needs those outdated conventions?

Social media has allowed us to become uninformed and misinformed goons – with the only consequence for behaving like gorillas with indigestion being misspelled, linguistically incoherent and grammatically incorrect vitriolic retorts from self-righteous narcissists or self-appointed scholastic experts.

We have landed our time machines in an empty world of nomadic shadows with no backbones or hearts.

Social media is the nightmare’s pinch hitter for real human interaction; gone mostly are those tough, aggravating places where iron sharpens irony and where we all hold each accountable to ancient social constructs of tolerance, brute justice and gentility – within the engine of genuine moral conscience.

We are killing ourselves in the brutally cold social media world where the human soul counts for nothing more than just another cyber friend or follower, a proud number.

We have turned ourselves over to madness for the cheap thrill of existential significance – just for a few, blustery moments of odious fame or that faux sense of connection.

Is it all worth it? What do we achieve, other than that short squashing of purposeful loneliness we find in our disconnected time?

It may be a somewhat pleasant journey, social media. It may deliver some semblance of recreational fancy or bonding with like-minded sojourners.

Social media certainly holds value. But, like any untamed monster, it yearns to possess and destroy, at least little by little.

Within certain faith groups reside the Sabbath, the day of rest. The Sabbath serves as a break from the tedium, the trials and the toil of everyday living.   

Perhaps the Sabbath should be overlaid upon social media. Let us give the wild, often fruitless ride of social media a day (or more) of rest.

Lay it aside for a time. Experience life outside the cloistered world of the rowdy cyber dance hall of fisticuffs and frivolity.

May we return – for a while – to the playful, front-porch illusions of rosier days, at least until we’re able to recollect our better angels?

We can always get back into life’s fast lane, social media. But sometimes those slow rides through the metaphorical countryside have a way for restoring our souls.

So, take the lonely, lovely road. See how you like the ride.