Now we have Facebook and Twitter to expand each others’ rancor with copy and paste and link and forward so millions of commiserates can simultaneously bitch and expand on our rants. Perhaps we should pull the plug on this internet thing as a nobel idea gone bad, like New Coke. Did the inventors not know a world wide web is more likely to spread woes than facts?
—from: “Urspo has a complaint,” by Urspo in Spo-Reflections
Over at Spo-Reflections, Urspo begins his eleventh year blogging complaining about the negative downturn social media has taken. There was a time, he reminds us, when Twitter and Facebook were platforms we “used to read about cousin’s birthdays and bad weather in Michigan, or see zany photos” about ordinary things we encountered on trips to faraway places. Now, however, “the posts are full of tirades resembling an orchestra of scorched cats,” he wryly observes. And with good reason.
For the last few months, ever since — let’s say — November, social media has turned ugly and nasty. Gone are the photos of dreamscapes or family reunions. Noticeably absent are dogs surfing on a California beach, or quotes about the virtues of the Internet attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Instead, we have, as Urspo observes, an endless stream of “complaining about complaining.”
So what’s to be done? How can anyone wired to their social media accounts hit the pause button on the stream of rancor and ire that seem to ooze from almost every post?
A friend suggests doing the following on his most recent Facebook post:
The idea is to occupy Facebook with art and break up the political posts that don’t contribute to a positive conversation or understanding of the issues. This is NOT meant to ignore what is going on, but to give your eyes and mind a “break” from all the negative commentaries that are being shared. If you LIKE, or otherwise comment on this post, you will be given an artist to look up. Then you have to post a piece of art by that artist on your page, along with these instructions so your friends can do the same.
Unable to resist a modern day pyramid scheme, I enthusiastically LIKE-d my friend’s post, and was duly assigned Mexican artist Diego Rivera, a personal favorite. I love Rivera’s earth-tone color palettes and his honest interpretation of Mexican life and folklore. I also saw it fitting to display art from a country that’s been much maligned by the recent powers that (shouldn’t) be.
I chose Rivera’s Flower Seller because it is one of my favorite pieces of art. The image is that of a woman holding an impossible bouquet of calla lilies; it is also one of Diego Rivera’s most famous and well known pieces, painted in 1941.
Already, a few of my friends have taken the bait and LIKE-d the Facebook post, so I’ve assigned to them the job of posting artworks by Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt, Odilon Redon, and Henri Rousseau.
It’s my hope to see more art on Facebook and Twitter than political or global discord. I’m not blind to what is taking place in our country or the world. On the contrary. Now more than ever, I feel we must be vigilant and make sure our liberties are not taken away and voices are free to say what needs to be said. It’s just that sometimes what needs to be said could be firmly and confidently stated with a fine piece of art.