Social Media: The Good and The Bad

Social Media: The Good and The Bad

Social Media: The Good and The Bad

Does anyone else need to buy a t-shirt that says, “I SURVIVED THE ELECTION OF 2016 AND STILL HAVE ONE FRIEND LEFT”? This was one of the longest, most brutal, hateful, controversial, mind boggling elections that I have ever lived through.  This might be a bit dramatic, but for the first time I can understand what people went through during the Civil War of this country, when families and friends found each other on the “other” side of the issues. Social media has been a good thing for the most part.  It has opened up communication amongst us.  Long forgotten friends have found each other.  Families can keep in touch with each other on a day-to-day basis.  But on the downside, there are things that we feel, those deep inner thoughts that nobody used to know about, things that we used to keep silent that have unfortunately found an outlet as we sit behind our keyboards or a cell phones.  We feel safe in our own space there, not afraid to put forth our most secret thoughts, thoughts that could comfort another person and rally support for another person’s position, but on the downside, could shock, anger and hurt others.  We have the ability to type these thoughts into a void without having to look another person in the eye and with a click send them into cyberspace to share with the world, usually people we know and love.   All of those silent and sometimes terrible thoughts that we never shared with anyone but kept them inside our own minds we now put right out there for everyone’s eyes to see and read.  I know I have been guilty of this on numerous occasions.  I usually like to keep my posts on social media lighthearted and funny.  But on several occasions, I have read something in my news feed that has offended me or has sparked a flash of anger and before I think about it I’m tapping away and clicking that “send” button.  And when I see it up there in print and instantly regret what I have shared I can delete it, but the harm has been already been done.  Because in that instant I clicked the “send” button it appeared in my news feed and others have read it, absorbed it, acknowledged it as my thoughts and words and no amount of deleting it from social media can erase it from that person’s mind.  The damage is done. Perhaps what we really should practice is a new version of the “count to 10” routine.  Type it or write it out in draft away from that notorious “send” button.  Then think about what we have written for 10 minutes.  If we still feel the need to post it we must be prepared to have a reaction.  And that reaction may be affirmation or derogatory comments from others who you have angered in return. At the end of the day, what we all need to remember is the people we are on social media with are usually friends and family.  People who we liked enough to invite into our circle on our social media page when we located them.  Even though we hate to admit it, all of us have differing opinions and strong reasons to back up those opinions.  It is just human nature.  President Obama said that our “democracy is a messy business” and it sometimes gets loud and rowdy, but I feel that we can do a better job at respecting each other so much more when we debate the differences, keep an open mind and keep it civil without the name calling, berating, the downright viciousness, hatred and division that was demonstrated in this past election.  Together we are strong.  God Bless America.