July 10, 2015

The Trouble With Social Media

I have a love-hate relationship with social media (and I should specifically mention Facebook because I have not ventured into Twittering or whatever-else-there-is-out-there). 

Can I start out with how wonderful it is?!  
Who has the time to regularly catch up with all your childhood or college friends?  
Who has time to talk on the phone or write letters to their 5+ dozen cousins even once a year?! 
Thanks to Facebook, I can instantaneously shoot out a quick note or message to the people I love.  I can see them post pictures of their adorable families even though I rarely (if ever) see them anymore.
I really appreciate the pictures friends and family post of their children after they got into a tub of vaseline or flour because then I feel a little better about the occasions when my kids wreak havoc on our house.  Overwhelmed mothers unite!

I can quickly post a question to all my Facebook friends inquiring the best place to eat at in Anchorage or the best way to remove black sharpie from a pleather couch.  I get 20 responses in minutes!

My family started a successful fundraiser in the past few years thanks in big part to getting the word out to the community through social media.

 Through a local Facebook page I can buy and sell things in a "virtual garage sale".

I can read enlightening articles that people have shared regarding everything from health, to nutrition, to current events, to child-rearing, to money management.  It's wonderful!

Social media is a great form of PR, communication, networking, and advertising for those who own businesses.

I mean, how did we manage to survive before this marvelous age of instant communication via social media?!  It is such a blessing! 

But then.......I have to admit that there are times when it is not my favorite........

 Sometimes social media can be such a time-waster.  In winding down at the end of the day I can "quickly" check Facebook and before I know it, I've spent 40 minutes on it with nothing to show for it.  I hate that.

Don't even get me started on the requests for all the Facebook games (no, I don't want to play Candy Crush or give you an extra life or whatever).

And those enlightening articles that people post?  Sometimes they actually drive me crazy.  Article headlines like "Why You Should Never Let Your Child Use a Handheld Device" or "The 5 ways You Are Ruining Your Children" or "You Are Slowly Killing Your Children By Feeding Them These 7 Foods" are inflammatory and seem to only fan the flames of cyber mommy wars by dividing people and placing them into categories ("the granola cruncher mom", "the medical-minded mom", "the anti-vaxxer mom", etc).  I don't like having to be in any one category as a mom, woman, friend, person, etc, and it is exhausting to constantly be bombarded with literature on how you are failing at life even if you are honestly trying to do and be the best you can be for yourself and your family.  So I really wouldn't mind if those types of articles disappeared (or were at least written in a less-divisive).

My husband down-right detests social media.  I think he checks his Facebook page a few times a year.  He is bothered by all the selfies, updates on what people are eating for breakfast, and heated political and social debates that occur on Facebook.  He especially hates the heated debates.
He is always saying that Facebook is the best way to miscommunicate how you feel and then misinterpret what others mean.  
It is true. 
I come from a big, loud, opinionated family who don't always agree on things and frequently, actively debate our differences on social media.  Sometimes the debates are civil and quite enlightening and I have come to appreciate and respect the opinions that differ from my own.  However, tone and meaning can often be misinterpreted in the hastily-written word and that's where the debates go sour.  I know I have unintentionally and sadly come across as less than kind while expressing my opinion before on Facebook and it's something I still deeply regret.   I have also been approached by friends who have read our family exchanges wondering why some of them are so rude in their writing (when I know they were not intentionally being rude).

Relationships fizzle (and people get "de-friended") over things written, shared, or posted on social media and often our perception of otherwise kind and wonderful people is that they are snarky, narrow-minded, angry, and crazy all because of what they posted or wrote on social media.

Sometimes I want to delete my Facebook account and be rid of the negativity and time-waster that it can be, but then I remember the before-mentioned virtues of social media and I can't bring myself to "quit" it completely.
That is the trouble with social media: it is wonderful and horrible all at the same time and it's hard to pick out the good without swallowing some of the bad.

So how do I keep Facebook and all that is good in it while discarding or ignoring the bad?

The other day while wondering if people really are so rude and crazy that Facebook just isn't worth it anymore, the words of Anne Frank entered my mind:  "In spite of everything I still believe people are good at heart."  
The inflammatory rants, the ridiculous posts, the links to crude articles.......I still believe the majority of them come from good and kind people who are all still figuring out the etiquette of instant written communication provided by social media.  Unlike written communication 100 years ago,  this requires no postage stamp or two weeks' wait to reach its intended.  We can converse through written word nearly as quickly as we can have a conversation in person, so sometimes I think we forget that they still aren't the same and we must still give great care to what we write and how we write it.
I have faith that we'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, I have concluded that instead of running away from something that can sometimes be negative, I will do my part to make it more positive.  I will try to be thoughtful in the way I write and I will try to be less critical of the seemingly crazy or rude posts/comments made by others.  Most of them are intelligent and kind human beings and I may be misinterpreting their passion for insanity and their intensity for rudeness.  (And I hope others will give me the same courtesy)
It will be interesting to see how far we will have (hopefully) come in the next few years in how we communicate.  Who knows, maybe social media has given us a different avenue to improve communication skills, to be more thoughtful, and to be more kind?
If that's the case, then maybe even the annoying game requests will be worth it. :)  

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...