I haven’t written anything in a very long time.
One of my Facebook friends, fellow educator, and fellow Duke fan, Deana, issued a challenge of sorts on her Facebook.
The challenge: thirty days of writing with a different prompt each day.
Let’s be real honest. It’s 8 p.m. and I haven’t blogged since the beginning of September. This one is going to suck. But you’ve read this far, might as well push through. I did.
The first prompt is five problems I have with social media. I can’t think of any particular order to rank these in, so I’ll just be spitting them out with a number next to them.
1. Different expectations for different networks — I once heard someone say, “Facebook is church on Sunday morning, and Twitter is the strip club you were in on Saturday night.” I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anything more accurate. There was a time—before students found me on the Twitter—where I used a foul word every once in a while or I’d retweet a crude picture. I will say this, that has changed since I’ve started teaching and helping out with the youth group at my church. I want to set a good example for the next group of world leaders, so I’ve tried to tone things down across all the platforms I’m currently on (Facebook, Twitter, IG, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.). But to this day, if I need to rant, I choose Twitter for the diatribe, mostly because my mom hasn’t found Twitter, and neither have most of the school board.
2. Beefs — I don’t get Twitter and Facebook beefs. I mean, I understand keyboard warriors and the need to troll, I do that all the time. But to actually get into a real fight with someone over social media? Come on. GUYS YOU AREN’T DOING ANYTHING WHEN YOU DO THAT. All you’ve managed to do is prove you’re an idiot on a network where idiots tend to go viral. I have gotten into a Twitter beef with Tom Arnold once, which devolved into one of his followers insulting my “sodium-induced bloated face,” which I’m not gonna lie, cut real deep. Where’s the beef? Not where I can see it, folks. Chill out.
3. Creepers — Look. I’ve dated a few women, I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve adopted three kids, and I teach young people. I know y’all are creeping on me. In fact, someone reading this right now is doing nothing but trying to catch me throwing shade so they can try to ruin my life.
I would also like to add that my wife is the creeper champ, but it’s out of necessity is what she tells me, so I let it slide. Don’t creep, y’all. Especially if you’re a teenager reading this, or if you have the maturity level of a teenager, don’t creep. Don’t do it. You’ll make your enemies a whole lot more mad if you aren’t typing their name into a search bar somewhere. Of course I could just defer to Wilde here:
4. That I can’t WUPHF people yet —
Seriously scientists, I’m looking at you. Make this happen.
5. Twitter won’t verify me — As you can tell, I’m really reaching deep into the bag here. But in all honesty, here’s my argument. I’m a teacher, right? I have students who follow me on Twitter, right? HOW DO THEY KNOW IT’S THE REAL TRAVIS SLOAT? It’s a security issue is what it is, we can’t have kids following fake educator accounts and being seduced with things like people sliding into their DMs, or offering them money for more followers. Twitter needs to verify me so my students know that I’m the real Mr. Sloat. I’ve tried tweeting that to them, but to no avail. Maybe you all could help me out?
There you have it, it’s now 8:40 p.m. and I’ve written my first blog for the writing challenge. If you catch me slipping, I’d appreciate some accountability on your end by WUPHFing me and keeping me on my toes. And if you don’t want to read thirty days of this (it will get better I swear), then you should probably just delete me off whatever social media site you pulled this from. I promise I won’t mind.
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|“I got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!”
We’ve all seen it. It’s plastered on Facebook and Twitter daily, hourly, secondly
The airing of grievances.
“Well, my baby daddy told me he was comin’ to get dis child, and he neva showed up, he a loser, I don’t know why I screw wit dudes like him, he worthless, said he was in a car wreck, that looser* betta hope he wrecked, cuz imma send my new boyfriend afta his sorry butt.”
“If you got something to say to me, why don’t you say it to my face? I’m not going to mention your name here because that would be too obvious, instead I want to keep this anonymous so that maybe you feel like it’s your fault even though it’s not your fault.”
When did social media become a sounding board for every disconsolate single mom, frustrated spouse, discontent family member, and opinionated TapOut wearing muscle head?
Before we continue, I understand that there are ways to ignore these people, and not see any of the content they post. I know that. But that’s not addressing the problem.
Also, I really don’t mind the political bashing, or bashing of Christians or atheists or pro-lifer or pro-choicers. As Christians, I don’t think we need to let folks know that they’re all going to hell, but in the same token, if you aren’t singling someone out, let your opinions fly. Free speech and all that. I’m really focused more on specific individual bashing, friends, family, or otherwise.
A few nights ago, I got into a fight with one of my brothers. Imagine that. Fighting with a brother. About midway through the argument, I picked up my phone and another brother looked at me and said, “Are you about to Facebook this right now?”
I just stared at him.
“Absolutely not. Why would I do that?”
Up until mentioning it here, no one knew that I had a fight with my brother except the other brothers and my wife. That’s how I choose to run my life. I don’t feel the need to express to the masses that I’m upset with someone, or that people in my family sometimes annoy the bejesus out of me. I think that’s a given. If you’ve known me for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably seen me argue with one of my brothers.
On the other hand, I want to share the good times with you. I want you to know that my daughter got saved, or that I’m happy to be celebrating nine years with The Missus, or that our son caught an enormous fish.
So why the good and not the bad?
I like to think you have enough of your own problems without seeing mine too. And while I love attention MORE than the next guy, I don’t want that attention to be focused on the negative aspects of my life. And believe it or not, this costs me.
I got a message a few weeks ago from someone telling me that they had honestly never liked me because I seemed stuck up and “better than everyone else.” Then, upon reading “The Road,” they realized that I had problems like everyone else, and their opinion of me turned around.
I could not have been happier. I apologized to the person for my aloof attitude, and assured them that I had my fair share of issues. If you’re reading this and you’d like to know a few of them, here you go.
The Missus and I fight about money. I like to spend it, and she has to be the bad guy and tell me not to. I struggle with the fact that our kids don’t like me very much because I come off as a stern disciplinarian and don’t spend as much time with them as I think I need to. I’ve struggled with internet pornography for years, and just in the last few years have I gotten it semi-controlled. I’m narcissistic and cynical, but I believe in the basic good of people. I love Jesus, but sometimes I cuss a little. I’m currently paying someone to take a college class for me. I can’t stand eating dinner at the table with my family, I like to watch TV when I eat. I’m selfish. I’m a very jealous person. I can be just a touch misogynistic in my words and actions. I struggle with my tolerance for certain things that I was raised to not tolerate. I struggle with control issues. I used to be mean to animals. And I can’t stand your driving.
There. If you thought for one second I don’t have problems, there.
“After all, we all live in Hyde Park. We all have our dragons.”**
But Travis, isn’t airing them here the same as telling Facebook and Twitter about them?
Well, let me ask you this. Do you enjoy engaging with me on the social platform? If so, ask yourself why. Is it because 99% of my statuses are lighthearted and joking? I’m going to step out on a limb and say that hopefully you answered yes to those questions.
On the blog however, you have to digest the good with bad, and it’s not a three second glance over 140 characters and a quick dismissal or press of the “Like” button. You’ve committed to reading all of this, or most of it, and so it’s less of a constant barrage of negative streaming onto your cell phone or computer screen. Also, I’ll usually warn you that a blog is a “thinker,” and not a normal, funny, make you laugh so hard you spit coffee on your keyboard and then pee your pants blog.
Another reason is, when I’m on social media like Facebook or Twitter, I genuinely want to make you smile or laugh all the time. Sometimes I want you to think, and sometimes even cry, but I never want you to say, “Wow, I wish Travis would shut up with all that negative talk about his wife.” I want something that makes you feel.
Some will accuse me of pandering to people’s sentimental and emotional side. I’d ask those people to read my blog. I keep it real here.
So why do people feel the need to bash their exes, their family, and anything else incessantly on social media? Is it because they aren’t getting the attention they feel they need from people in real life? Is it because they get a thrill out of exposing someone for who they really are over the Internet? I really wish I had the answers for that. In fact, at the risk of becoming somewhat Maury-like, if you’re a constant basher of people on social media, why don’t you anonymously weigh in with a comment here. Tell us what makes you tick.
As for me, and thankfully for The Missus and my family, we will continue in the tradition of leaving each other alone on Facebook and Twitter. I am proud of that fact, and I hope you’ll consider joining me in making your social media feed a bit more positive. Focus on the good people have done for you. If no one has ever done anything good for you, why don’t you start by doing something good for someone else? The feeling you’ll get might be status worthy.
In the words of mothers for generations:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
*I absolutely misspelled that on purpose. Don’t think for one second I don’t know the difference between loose and lose.
** “The Oath” – Frank Peretti