The other day I was strolling through the aisles of a local used bookstore with my friend Hannah, when all of a sudden we started talking about social media and its existence in today's day and age. Social media is such an integral part of our lives, that we have cultivated relationships by using it as well as have morphed our lives around it. Even in writing this blog post, I was super annoyed because I couldn't get a good internet connection. Do you remember dial-up? I remember getting "kicked off" the internet everytime the phone was used because it was one or the other. I also remember thinking how absolutely fantastic it was to peruse the forums of my favorite bands and pop stars at the time. I discovered the British band, McFly, through the internet and was so excited when some of their music came over to the states. Ahh cute boys with British accents *le sigh*
Social media has grown significantly from the days of simply sending an e-mail. It's a part of our phones, computers, career life, and it doesn't just stop there, it's how we use that social media. We blog, we post up to the minute status updates using Facebook or even life blippets in 140 characters or less via Twitter. We constantly know what is happening, whether it's with our family, friends, or even celebrities. Today, Twitter and even Instagram have provided means of actually engaging with celebrities in ways that we have never been able to. That being said, it's amazing what celebrities, with millions of followers, are willing to say and share.
But that brings me to the reason I wrote this post. The other day I saw a re-tweet that had a lot of cruel language behind it. It was a stab at a political agenda, but regardless, it was on a topic that affects people greater than the politicians in Washington D.C. I got hung up on it and Ryan said that I should just "x" out of the account. I had been reading the Twitter feed of someone I don't even follow but the brashness of that original tweet picqued my interest. It was a poor choice on my part because I could feel a mixture of annoyance and anger start to build up. It also caused me not just to "x" out of that page but to unfollow someone because of their free use of the "re-tweet" option.
It amazes me the type of freedoms that social media has provided us. Don't get me wrong, I love social media, to the point where my college major heavily used it. I am slightly obsessed with it but with that being said, I also have to tow the line of professionalism and personal use. I so often see a whole other side of people come out. Their social media selves are more blunt, ruder, wilder, and more profane. Sometimes the concepts of empathy, compassion, and simple kindness are thrown out the window. It's as if one's personal agenda has become significantly more important than the fact that the world doesn't revolve around that one person.
During political campaigns, I tend to get a little heated. I've scaled that back quite a bit because I realized that the language that people use during political campaign seasons is not benefitting our causes but usually just meant to cut and hurt someone else. I was shocked to see what others put out there and I was concerned by own behaviors of automatically judging someone who didn't see my viewpoint. That being said, I may not agree with them, but was I willing to create an automatic animosity over social media? No, I wanted to maintain my friendships and I found that really hard to do that when I couldn't get past opinions expressed through social media. In college, I purposely took classes and participated in programs that focused on diversity. I knew that going into the Air Force, I would be working with people of different races, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, and education levels. I had already seen the negative effects of being in one mindset and I wasn't going to let that stop me from being an effective leader. But with that training and knowledge, it still is difficult to see/understand/comprehend what people are willing to share to the world over the internet.
What I see is mean and hurtful, and if approached in person, individuals would never say that to someone's face. People tend forget that they are just that, people. We're just starting to scratch the surface with bullying campaigns and advocacy for parental guidance over internet use. I think there needs to be a cultural change. I have seen bloggers say some pretty nasty things to one another over blog post content. There have been fights over Twitter, which sounds ridiculous, but involves retweets, hashtags, and mentions from numerous bloggers and fans. To me, that's a little bit out of control.
Even with Facebook, Hannah and I were discussing how someone can't even change their relationship status without having social media repercussions. Not showing your relationship status means one thing and all of a sudden deleting it means something entirely different. I have done that dance where it's like, well crap are we Facebook official or what?
Social media will always amaze me. How about you? How has social media postively or negatively affected your life?
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