I have been thinking a lot about social media lately. You can probably guess that from my post last week. I have been thinking about this since early November, after I read a couple of posts about how other bloggers struggle with social media, and I thought, yes that’s me too. But today I want to write in clearer, more “practical” terms about what social media actually is.
It’s the new year, besides. I could use the reflection.
I think we have this idea that social media is an entity in itself. That it acts on its own, and does whatever it wants. That’s a nice thought, (and certainly less complicated), because if you ever wanted to change social media all you’d have to do is go back to the source and change it. One click and you’re done: social media is restored.
But social media doesn’t have that kind of power. It only represents the ideas and perspectives of the people who use it. And as of 2017, roughly 81% of Americans use social media. (that’s a lot of sources).
If *50% of the population believes that murder is okay, you’re going to see their ideas represented on social media (you’re also going to see a lot of people fighting back and saying that murder is wrong and those people are nut-cases and should be prosecuted).
but it illustrates my point nicely.
This explains why I feel so torn about social media: that it’s the greatest and the worst thing. Because social media is only as powerful as the people who use it. If people use it for evil, that’s what it’ll become. And if people use it for good, that’s what it’ll become.
Sometimes I see a thread like this, in my feed. And I feel inspired that the world is really not as hopeless as I think it is.
And sometimes I’ll read something like this*, and think, wow I really hope I read that wrong.
You know what I’m talking about.
political reference I’ll make
in this post, I promise.
This is why social media is a weird paradox of good and evil and indifference. Because it’s showing me all the perspectives, opinions, and shades of grey that exist in the world – at one time. And that’s depressing, because while I feel like racism doesn’t exist because I’ve never seen it, someone, somewhere is going to tell me that I’m ignorant because I don’t live in their town where kids are afraid to walk to school because of their skin color.
One of the things I see on social media is when people speak about their experiences, it doesn’t matter how they word it. Someone, somewhere is going to say, hey! you’re stupid and you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Not everyone is going to say, hey it’s fine you don’t get what I’m saying. I can’t expect you to. You’re not me. Social media is a roller-coaster because it represents people. It can be frustrating because you’re exposed, at once, to every single perspective on the face of the earth. You have a greater, larger audience than if you just got up on a box in front of a crowd. In the crowd you might have two dozen people disagree with you. On social media, it might be two million. It can feel like you’re a squigget* in a very large ocean.
*not even sure that’s
a real word, but whatever
You are. You’re in the midst of an ocean in which everyone feels like they have something to say.
But here’s the thing: We can’t eliminate free choice, just because people make wrong choices. The answer is not to cut off social media to certain people. That would mean someone has to be put in charge of deciding who those people are, and that’s a road that only leads to tyranny.
What can you do, anyway?
You can only be responsible for you. You are the only one who can make your social media different, better. You are one in 7.6 billion. You cannot change the whole world, but you have a circle of people you inspire and impact every single day.
Use that influence wisely. It’s important.
Realizing that social media is a representation of different people in different places, with difference experiences, really goes a long way in helping me understand what I scroll past everyday. It helps me realize that when I post something, not everyone is going to love me.
I still might get overwhelmed with social media, at times. And that’s when I know I need a break. I don’t have to be present on social media 24/7 in order to use it for good. Neither am I willing to throw it out completely, because…social media is still is the greatest tool for worldwide connection that exists.
Go make social media a better place.