I would describe social media as one of those things we can’t live with, but we can’t live without. Living with it means constant distraction from kids, family, work, or anything else we should be paying more attention to. Yet living without it means being so far removed from the rest of the world, that we risk valuable connections and opportunities that could bring us success in life. How many times have you found yourself thinking, “What did we do before we had social media?”
What I have enjoyed about social media over the years, particularly Facebook, is how it enables me to keep in touch with family, friends, and old schoolmates that I otherwise wouldn’t talk to due to distance. I have particularly enjoyed the ability to stay connected with other military wives I have met along the way, when we go our separate ways. It allows me to watch kids grow, stay current with lives, and even ask for advice when I need some support. It also lets me keep up with my nieces and nephews who I seldom get to see because of military life.
Another way social media has been great is for sharing my own blog posts, or other posts that touch me in some way. I have joined several private groups relevant to me that have enabled me to share content or simply ask questions that someone else might be able to help with. By using Twitter (which I’m still only starting to grasp) I can see pictures and updates of what my kids are doing throughout the day at school. And LinkedIn has enabled me to keep up with my professional side and network with hundreds of others who work in my fields of interest.
As great of a resource social media has been, lately I’ve been disappointed by the way people are using it. It seems that many feel it is okay to gossip, criticize, judge, deceive, and be downright mean on social media sites. It seems that when conversing through cyberspace, without face-to-face or voice interaction, there is no consideration of the Golden Rule. Have people forgotten what it means to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you?” And what about the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Has social media slowly devalued the idea of maintaining civility when responding to others’ opinions and beliefs? Are we hiding behind our computers and finding a reason to be intentionally cruel to others?
I have seen the need for people to remove posts because others’ responses caused an upheaval of hate and criticism. I have joined private groups where the moderator has indefinitely pinned a warning message at the top of the page making sure everyone knows what information and comments are appropriate and that violators will be removed from the group. A military support group I joined had a message just like that pinned to the top of the page and within a week there was drama which caused others to feel hurt.
I have seen criticism towards people on their faith, appearance, political views, parenting, and even military spouses attacking each other.
Facebook isn’t the only place either; this goes for Twitter as well. Haters will go on criticizing others without seeming to care one iota that they are actual people with real feelings. I get that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I myself have some pretty strong ones. But when those opinions are used to tear someone else down, to make them feel wrong or belittled or unworthy, there is a huge problem.
Social media was created in an effort to help us stay connected, not become divided. It can continue to be a great source of networking, support, and connection with others, but we must learn how to be civil when our opinions and beliefs do not match up with those of others. We must hold our tongues when we have nothing nice to say, and we must not let it demoralize one of the most fundamental virtues of human nature: treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated.
Just think, if you would not say it to someone’s face, why would you type it?