I think social media is one of the most brilliant things we’ve introduced in the 21st century. It’s opened up communication on such a super-sonic global level. Through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. our world has become a smaller place. We’ve seen the amazing ways that it can be utilized (think Iraqi elections, the riots and protests in Egypt and Iran, and the Libyan revolution). In Colorado, Twitter and Facebook were HUGE when the Waldo Canyon Fire threatened the cities of Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, and Manitou Springs. I’ve also seen how it is used for stupidity (read: every single Justin Bieber/One Direction trend to ever hit Twitter).
I’ve met amazing people through social media. I love the Colorado Springs tweet ups that happen once a month. I’ve made a connection with a new friend, who I’m pretty sure is my long lost sister. There are things about my community I’ve discovered I love! Free concert nights in parks. Quirky towns with awesomely random gift shops. A huge Olympics celebration downtown. The amazing, generous, big-hearted people who live here.
Nevertheless, there is a side to social media that wears me down.
Our computer age has diminished our care for people. We’ve developed callouses on our hearts and minds. Now that we have the ability to think what we want and broadcast that to a wide audience, we do it without a second thought. Whether it’s political or religious or lifestyle, we can voice our opinions with seemingly little consequence. If it’s pithy and slightly biting, we don’t see any issue with typing it out furiously and clicking “tweet” or “post”. It seems we no longer realize that there are people on the other side of the computer screens we stare at for hours on end. While we all have a right to voice our opinions, I’m think we’ve lost whatever filter our mouths and brains had before social media came on the scene. Civility in disagreement, or even agreement, is becoming a lost art.
Everything we think does not deserve to be said. We joke about the “what I had for breakfast” posts and pictures, but it’s a light example of what I’m talking about. A broader example? I’ve been reading tweets and Facebook posts from the RNC and the DNC. To be honest, I’m appalled with people both sides. There is so much nastiness being slung around and for what reason? What do we prove by resorting to 140 characters of pith that demeans another person? It also makes me extremely gun shy to post any opinion I might have for the fear of being ripped apart by one person or another. I’m moving to the extreme of feeling like it’s not even worth posting my thoughts any more. I’ve seen the same thing when it comes to something like the Grammys or when a football game is decided by a bad call. People are as vitrolic and passionate about these events and say terrible things.
I’ve been convicted about this issue in my life. It’s not that hard things shouldn’t be said. They should. Truth needs to be spoken. But, no matter what we’re talking about, if it’s said with an air of arrogance, without concern for the person on the other side of our tweet or post, we’ve lost. Never forget, words mean something. They have impact on people. It doesn’t matter if they’re spoke or written, the things said to us echo for a long time.
So here’s the challenge. It’s not only for my friends, but for me. Let’s make an effort take a bit of time and think about what we’re posting before hitting the “send” button. Think about the person who might be reading your post on the other end. Remember they’re human. You’re human. We’re all human. At the end of the day, we all deserve to be treated with dignity.