After my wife and I moved up to Santa Fe, NM, we both joined a facebook community group; a page where locals could share events and stories, reach out to each other and communicate about our city and surroundings.
In the beginning it seemed like a good place to be to get in touch and connect with people. I have shared the fundraiser for my wife there a couple of times and I have shared my artwork there and gotten a lot of positive feedback.
Over the past year however, the comment section of this page has gotten more and more hateful and negative; every post is followed by an onslaught of negatives, personal attacks and spiteful, mean behavior.
Yesterday I decided to leave the group.
Somebody had posted an article about a criminal that had been found dead in jail. Some sad wreckage of a man who had killed and raped repeatedly had been jailed and found dead under pretty shady circumstances and in the comment section I read comment after comment about what a piece of shit he was, how they wanted to burn him, make him suffer and torment him, torture him before killing him slowly… I said I thought it was sad to read all these hateful ,angry comments and that, like it or not, every person has a story and a reason as to why they become who they become. After this, I was jumped by a bunch of strangers, regular people with public facebook profiles, jobs and families mocking me for my softness, saying I was an idiot, that I should just shut up and remove myself from the group.
Which I did.
I cannot understand how much hate people have in their hearts. I find it hard to hate even the cruelest criminal.
I hate unfairness.
I hate people that hurt animals.
I hate how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer in a world that has the potential to provide a life an abundance for everyone, if we wanted to.
These things I hate.
If you have just an ounce of empathy and clear mindedness, it’s easy to see that a person is not born evil, but shaped by his or her surroundings. I don’t know anything about this particular criminal, but I am certain his life was not a happy one and it breaks my heart and quite frankly, it scares me that this is what we’ve come to; the reactions of regular people on social media scares me more than the possibility of getting murdered by some random killer.
Being mocked for having empathy for a tortured soul, that scares me.
Is this behavior caused by the ability to speak out and still remain anonymous – an ability provided to us by the internet? Have we become desensitized by facebook and other internet platforms, or where humans always this cruel?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. I hope that there is more kindness and empathy out there in the world than what we see online, because the online world seems to have turned into one angry, hateful, screwed up mess…
Are you out there, empathic people?