How social media perverts the principles of both social and media

By Buddy Early, October 2020 Issue.

I’ve noticed one of the more popular things to do on social media is grumble about how others are using their social media. It works like this: someone complains that others are using their Facebook page only for gloom and doom, or only to attract sympathy from others, or only to post photos of their meals, or only for participating in dumb viral challenges or quizzes or such; then, in response, someone else complains about people complaining about how others use their Facebook page. And the cycle continues.

Something most enjoyable is when you can decipher who these passive-aggressive complaints are actually aimed at, but I’m getting off track.

You’re not human if you haven’t at least once thought of abandoning every one of your social media accounts because you’ve had enough of the bullshit. I cringe at a lot of the things I see posted by my friends. So much of it is, well, stupid. Furthermore, I could never share the type of deeply personal information that others do. I have very specific thoughts about what and how much I like to share, and it’s mostly superficial. However, if any of you cared to read about my social media strategy, you’d already be following me on my active Facebook page, my Instagram account with exactly zero photos, or my Twitter account for which I’ve forgotten the password. So, again, I’m getting off track.

The truth is, social media gets a bad rap. Sure, you could say “a lot of what is wrong with this world is due to social media” and your arguments no doubt would be strong. In fact, I’ve thought of a number of examples of how social media has been detrimental to or contributed to the dumbing down of our healthy society.

For starters, there is no need for debating others anymore. Put a period on any disagreements using the following methods:

• To save time, describe something or someone as problemactic or toxic. End of argument; move on.

• Shut down a quarrel by referring to someone’s privilege. No further explanation needed.

• Attempt to discredit an entire movement by bringing up something completely irrelevant. I call this the “Look At What Awful Thing This Black Person Did” tactic.

• Call someone a Nazi, libtard, snowflake or sheeple.

Nor is there any reason to ever change your mind about something or, worse, apologize, lest you appear weak. Just double down using the following approach:

• Because the internet is endless, if you have enough time you can always find an obscure study, opinion column, or even a cleverly-produced YouTube video supporting your bias. Who needs facts and science when you can always find someone as crazy as you to offer as support for your nonsense?

• If you’ve taken a stand on something that you are secretly afraid you might be wrong about, simply accuse another person of virtue signaling and you are off the hook.

• Call someone a Nazi, libtard, snowflake or sheeple.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now that I’ve angered the right, the left, and the middle, I can admit that I am guilty of some of these schemes. I chose to participate; I wasn’t forced. And that’s how I believe social media has gotten a bad rap. (I bet you thought I wouldn’t get back to that premise, huh?) This war that we are in with social media platforms is mostly a war of our own making. While Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and someone called Adam Mosseri — who is the “Head of Instagram” according to their web site but, c’mon, we all know it’s Zuckerberg — should be  consistently hounded until they begin to act like responsible citizens (individual and corporate), they haven’t exactly forced the rest of us to act like lunatics.

These social media sites have only recently begun to flag and remove false information and conspiracy theories and are finally making an effort to eliminate hate speech. (Although that latter one still has some kinks to be worked out.) They didn’t do it out of a conscience, however; they did it because we demanded it.

We need to be smarter about social media. And we can be smarter. We have been. We need to control it, rather than allow it to control us. If we are to claim that we are indeed being “social” on these sites, perhaps acting like we would in any social setting would be a good start. Additionally, “media” at its core means communication, and communication includes (but is not limited to) truthfulness and listening. This is not an unreasonable appeal. Like I said before, there are many uses for social media, and none of us should be judged for how we use these platforms. Just a little decorum, perhaps?

Now I’m going to wrap this up, as I recently read a local story about a murder suspect and I’m going to search for his Facebook to see if we have any mutual friends.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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