Even though the events of yesterday do not shock me, I am still somewhat fascinated at the way interactions through social media can get out of control. We have these platforms that enable us to say what we want and presumably to WHO we want. Many times, we are not at all concerned with if we should say it and who, if anyone, wants to hear it. Right now, the world is suffering, fearful, and confused. That confusion shows itself any time that someone posts conspiracy theories and hateful diatribes. We need to understand the power of our words, and what’s more, realize the ineffectiveness of our words to influence those through social media.
I am not naïve enough to believe that our words have no influence. I am experienced enough to be able to state with some confidence that it is not the influence that we are looking to achieve. We are often trying to change someone’s mind on a political matter or shape their thoughts on transpiring events. We are trying to get them to see things the way that we see them. We are at the very least trying to get them to understand how we feel or believe. In the end we only destroy relationships, shape their beliefs of who we are as people, and show that we feel they are somewhat less than because of their beliefs.
The people that I have the greatest opinion of in this world do not have a Facebook account or use it sparingly. They do not speak their mind about every issue. They do not give a million data points for everyone to draw conclusions about how their beliefs differ. When we do connect face to face or through text, we find things out about each other without using a megaphone. I have been more guilty than anyone out there and while I don’t regret speaking my truth, I do believe that there is power in taking time to process. It is sometimes dangerous to have the ability to immediately lash out.
I could go on and on about how social media changes our mood, our interactions with those right in front of us, or our ability to see the world as it truly is. I can talk about the algorithms that determine what we see and how our selection of “friends” has a huge influence on the information that we see. If we get our news from Facebook, we are definitely using a filter and that filter can blur reality. By blocking those with differing opinions or joining groups of only like-minded people we shelter ourselves from any new ideas and only become more entrenched.
After what can only be described as an overreaction and then subsequent drama recently, I can no longer ignore the negative effects that social media has. I can no longer write about it but do nothing. While it is amazing to build and grow friendships remotely, I’m not sure that this moment is the time to be finding those relationships. Right now, should be a time to find ways to strengthen relationships with those who know our heart and mind before we were under such duress. We have ways of connecting remotely with people without shouting to the rooftops each time we want to communicate. There are private messages, text messages, phone calls, Zoom/Skype/Facetime, etc.
We really need to find a way to get through these difficult times. Giving each other grace is the only way. There is not much grace to be found on social media. There are only people waiting to question your next post and inflict their long list of issues upon you. I was one of those people, I will admit. Taking myself out of the equation seems to be the only answer as I am incapable of keeping silent. I feel the need to interject and these interjections keep people from seeing the true, caring side of me. They only see the reactionary side, never the thoughtful side that comes after the initial blow up. I have paused social media before but always found my way back. Maybe I will this time as well. We need to know our limits and I have reached mine for the moment.