When it comes to social media, we seem to be taking on all the qualities of the double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. We are blown about by every thought, desire, opinion, and news story, even if it is completely (and quite obviously) fake. It isn’t enough for social media users to shout at the top of their lungs, though. They are now demanding that the rest of us shout, too, or face the consequences.
More than once during these past harrowing months of political strife, racial upheaval, gender clash, and conspiracy speculation, friends and acquaintances online have demanded noise. They have called again and again for the cymbals of opinion and conjecture to be endlessly crashed into the atmosphere of public discourse. To remain quiet, they reason, is to be complicit in the evils around us. Quiet, they claim, is weakness. Being still and speechless is no longer an acceptable option in a culture that values its own noise above all else.
I’m not the only one who has felt pressured to speak. I’ve seen it in so many friends online–the shared status updates, the hashtags, the desire to create a profile that spells out the fact that they are not okay with this wicked thing or that wicked thing. Everyone has rushed to crash their cymbals, to proclaim their opinions, to shoot fireworks that they hope will spell out exactly what they approve of and what they don’t. I’ve seen friends turn against each other in comment boxes.