It always starts off so well.
You find a new discussion forum to read, a new online group to follow. It looks interesting, valuable, useful. Maybe it’s in support of a cause you find important. Maybe it challenges you to look at the world a little differently. Maybe you enjoy finding silent camaraderie with those whose lives are in similar places right now. Maybe it’s just focused on a topic you think is cool.
You might join officially and post a little here and there, but mostly you just lurk. It becomes a regular part of your online routine, wondering what people are discussing on this subject.
After a while, you begin to notice the drama. It’s entertaining. You start to head to the site when you’re bored, thinking, “I wonder what’s happening in the XYZ group right now.” You’re metaphorically breaking out the popcorn.
Then the drama sours.
Maybe the group discussion has become increasingly dominated by bullies, or maybe you realize that it always has been. Either way, you become aware that your opinions are not just in the minority on this particular forum, they are actively shamed. You read even more intently, happy whenever someone gets in a good point for your side, always hoping for the bullies to be met with a good take-down.
But they’re not. You start mentally writing arguments yourself, words that you would never post but that drive you to frustration because you cannot share them. Now you’re just reading the discussions out of anger, unable to look away.
Eventually, you realize that you have to stop. That there’s no reason for this much anger. That whatever benefit you once got from this forum is far outweighed by its negative impact. You’re not even an active group participant. Nobody will even notice if you leave.
So you leave the group, delete the app, block the page – whatever it takes to prevent you from going back there and getting caught up in the drama again. You fight the temptation to look again. For a while, you harbor secret hopes that the group will implode upon itself (or come to its senses).
But in the end, for the sake of your own sanity, you try to let it go.
I’m in the cooling-off period from one of these cycles right now – a particularly complicated one with lots of drama spillover. For a variety of reasons, it was unwise for me to take an active role in the argument, so I got out. There was no grand exit, just a quiet click of the “Leave Group” button. I’m still processing a lot of rage from it, though.
Anyone else go through this kind of thing?