Misery loves company.
You’ve probably heard an older member of your family or your social circle use this phrase at one point in your life. Have you given it much thought? You should if you haven’t because it accurately describes the state of our society today. It was also the catalyst for my decision to leave Facebook. It was also the catalyst for this blog, and my encouragement, and invitation, for you to look at life differently.
Misery is a lonely feeling. It really doesn’t matter how one arrives at a state of unhappiness, despair, or misery as the adage describes. Misery is a town with a population of 1, and that is for a reason that is both naturally occurring in the healthy state of the human being, as well as the normal state of a person that lives in a functioning society with a cohesive culture. A person that is constantly miserable is isolated, and that feeling that is emotionally intolerable.
A person that is miserable seeks company because they are crying out for help, but they do so in a way that places others around them in emotional and psychological peril. Misery is like a virus, with the miserable person acting as a host. Their negativity stands to drag those close to them down in a pit of emotional quicksand. Perhaps unwittingly, the person that is suffering has now cast a shadow of angst over another person. Like a virus, negativity can spread if the person in contact with the host isn’t strong enough to withstand the infection. If the person is strong enough to withstand the onslaught of misery, then the host is once again left alone. If the listening ear does become infected with the virus that is misery, then company has been found.
If you have ever served in the Navy or in a capacity involved with a seagoing occupation, you have been warned never to physically intervene with a drowning person. You may throw them a life preserver, but physically engaging with them is dangerous because they will drag you down with them. The life preserver that may save the person suffering from misery? Love and compassion.
If you take the time to look at the statement, you will find something interesting. The verb “loves” appears, but have you given any thought to this? After all, it does seem like a logical juxtaposition. How can misery coexist with love? At first glance, it cannot coexist with love, but that is missing the point. Misery loves company because it is a cry for help. It is seeking that which either it is missing or is incapable of giving itself. Misery gives the opposite of that which it desperately needs, which is love and compassion. Ironically, love and compassion are the antidotes for misery. Like other ailments, the healthy often shun those who are afflicted. It becomes much more difficult to apply an antidote for that which ails our fellow traveler when we are afraid to come in contact with them. Who wants to be in the company of someone that is constantly negative and downtrodden? We don’t, but that may be the only way to break the cycle of misery. To show love, company may have to embrace misery to defeat misery.
So, what does this have to do with social media, and more particularly my decision to abandon Facebook? Quite a bit actually, because ironically my decision goes contrary to everything we have just discussed. To be fair, Facebook isn’t the only platform that has given me pause. In both my personal and professional life, I have reexamined what benefits and drawbacks social media as a whole exist in my online life. I have found that the drawbacks far outnumber the benefits.
If you examine social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, you will notice a trend. It seems as if negativity far outweighs positive thoughts. Demeaning attitudes far outweigh thoughts and notions of encouragement to our friends and followers. Yet, millions… billions?… of people spend countless hours every day interacting with their friends and followers.
From a perspective of the martial arts, I have witnessed people demean, bemoan, and interact extraordinarily rudely with people that are very accomplished in their chosen art or sport. I have seen people that are unknown to the martial arts community as a whole challenge and insult world champions. It does not matter if you are a fan of Conor McGregor or if you cannot stand him. To go online to a platform such as Facebook or Twitter and categorically state that you could mop the floor with one of the most talented martial artists on the planet is a different matter altogether. It is a stance that requires no courage, skill, or bona fides. It is an act of intellectual cowardice. It is a cry for attention because if the unadulterated truth were to stand naked before the world, the keyboard samurai making such claims lacks something in their own martial arts training or their overall life. Their statements that require no conviction morally or physically to reinforce them are simply mechanisms of compensation.
Several months ago on Instagram I posted something that was related to a criminal case. The exact post and its contents escape my recollection at the moment, but the reaction it got by one specific individual is vivid in my memory. This poster did not take issue with any particular thing I had to say, but she had plenty to say in an expansion of my thoughts. She also seemed to make it a point to claim that because I hold a PhD, I should have made the points she made in her response, and that I was negligent in my scholarly position for not having the insight that she shared with the world.
My response? I blocked her.
I know many of you are reading back through this blog post wondering why I didn’t throw out a life preserver of love and understanding to my fellow scholar. There are two reasons. First, I am a human being just like each and every one of you that graciously take time out of your day to read this blog. I am flawed, I have emotions, and I have thresholds of tolerance just like you. Second and most importantly though, I saw no need then, nor do I now, in feeding the beast that is social media.
Recently, I made the decision to delete both of my business pages on Facebook. I also deactivated my personal account. I did this because of some of the reasons I outlined above. The negativity I witnessed constantly began to drag me beneath the waves. I dreaded logging on to Facebook, even though I wanted to see what was going on in the lives of my family and friends. The detriments of the environment overtook any benefit or pleasure that I derived personally or professionally.
Misery loves company, and Facebook is a proverbial nudist colony in terms of social media platforms. Misery stands naked before the world. It is unhealthy to live this way. In terms of my business, the returns were miniscule in relation to the amount of time it took me to post content and police the page as I made sure objectionable content wasn’t allowed to linger in our comments section. It was no longer worth the effort.
You must find your own path in terms of social media and your relationships in life. Help those you can help, but always remember that misery is a virus that is constantly seeking a new host. Life is too short my friends. Be positive. Be grateful for what you have in life. Take time to have a real relationship with your friends, family, and your business clients. There are real people out there in the world. Be one of them, and give them your company, not misery.