Social media — what can I say?

Disclaimer: You don’t have to agree with my opinions concerning social media, but I would ask for a fair trial.

Social media. I remember when it first came on the scene. Now people can’t get away from it. Employers check your social media accounts as part of the hiring process. Families stop talking to each other over insults offered in a war of intonationless words on a website. Social media — what can I say?

Social media isn’t all bad. It isn’t all good, either. I would take the position that it is what you make of it. People are so ready to be offended since political correctness and social media came along, though. People seem much more sensitive these days. Much more radical as well. It leaves me asking what I can say…what I should say…and what I shouldn’t.

Here’s the problem. It’s a relatively simple one. Are you ready? The problem with social media is that people say things to each other on social media that they would never say to each other face to face. If people had to stand toe to toe and look each other in the eye and see the expression on the other person’s face, there are a lot of things on social media that wouldn’t be said and done, both amongst strangers and between friends. We’re losing our human connections to gigabytes of storage available and internet connection speed. Instead of thinking about how we’re going to make another person feel, we’re more concerned about how quickly we can return an insult through the World Wide Web. Instead of regarding the commentary as having come from a living, breathing human being with potential, we respond as if some post in the ground with no soul and an infinite capacity for torment is the recipient of our disapproval and hate. People are losing the ability to discuss and instead developing a keen sense of how to hurt each other in the worst ways possible without actually physically making contact with them. We are losing the ability to talk to each other.

So what’s the solution? I would propose that you wait 24 hours before responding to something inflammatory, if it is indeed inflammatory (unless it’s an emergency). Read through it at least twice initially, then wait an hour and read it a third time to make sure you really read what you think you read and you understand what you read or saw. Show it to at least one other person who can be objective about what is being read or seen to get a second opinion. I recommend two or three second opinions if it’s truly something that requires action on your part that may harm someone. If you determine that you need to respond strongly, think through your response carefully and keep in mind that you are indeed talking to another human being and that your response may intensely affect them. Take into account your relationship with the other person, if any, and what it might do to them and their thinking. Before sending or posting your response, again, have at least one objective party read both the inflammatory material and your response. Be willing to take suggestions about how to more effectively respond if they are given. You don’t have to change your response, but consider the input. Ultimately, you and only you are responsible for what gets posted or sent in response. Remember that. I think if we all took a step back and slept on some of these issues before responding, we’d have a happier and less toxic social media world. Just food for thought…

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