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The Good and Bad of Social Media (Quick-Read Article)

I put people on my social media account for two reasons:


1. I see something special in someone and I’d like to know more about them.

2. They’ve personally been an important part of what makes me who I am.


Because I like to sometimes see what those people are up to and I have a few groups and pages, I keep social media. But I struggle with how I feel about it. At times I just can't stand it, probably most of the time. It’s because I can't stand anything that suggests promises, but the promises are illusive, the supposed rewards are few, the consequences can be heavy and the payment belongs to the end users. And what I’m about to say, I say out of love and interest in creating more useful, common ground (as social media should be, but most often is not).




With social media, we’ve created platforms that can uplift, but also cause great damage. Often, it’s a tool we use, not just to damage our perception of who we really are, but to damage other people.


We live in a world that, every day, exponentially grows more comfortable with wrong behavior. Things/groups/behaviors we now accept and even justify, we used to see for what they are. We used to use much more caution, but these days, comfort usually wins.


Artistic closeup of a light fixture.

Photo taken by the writer, found in his portfolio at Slyfocal.com



All living systems look for the easiest path. Electricity loves wires, insects prefer existing holes over making their own, and humans often look for acceptance of self and behavior even if that acceptance has negative consequences. So, in comes social media where we can pretend we have hundreds or thousands of “friends”. (Just to clear that up; a friend is someone who knows you well, doesn’t judge, and will go out of their way for you as much as they can, in person. A click of a blue button labeled: “add friend” is not the same as hanging out with someone repeatedly and testing each other’s love and loyalty.)


But here we find ourselves, often on social media, where we can post a meme, an opinion or a photo of ourselves engaging in something wrong. It doesn’t matter if it implies hate toward someone. It doesn't matter if it empowers damage, addiction, narcissism or gives someone else the means to misuse our words or photos. Even though those acts are usually not our intentions, they are quite often the results. And because we have enough people on our “friends” lists, we will have enough digital high fives to feel like the wrongs we post are justified.


I’m not saying the idea of social media is bad. In fact, I think it has great potential. But what I know is, it hasn’t yet lived up to that potential. Instead, it’s become a tool of ease, one we use to bypass the benefits of building true friendships, bypass the benefits of deep communication, and bypass the benefits of being wrong.



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