Social Media: Friend or Foe?

I was thinking about how much I engage with the world through social media and I thought to myself, “good grief, how did we survive back in the old days.” It is scary how much different the world has become solely based on the invention of the internet. When I started university in 1990 there was no internet. Information on a certain topic was only attainable via your professors and the library. We had newspapers, news on TV (the limited 13 channels) and magazines back then but nowadays those have all but become antiquated, and to an extent useless. Why would I go to the library to find out about the Cold War for example, when all I have to do is hit the google bar and type in my key search words? Voila, 1000’s upon 1000’s of pages download before me. At this moment in time we can find out just about anything in under 10 seconds depending on the speed of your modem and your ability to spell correctly. This is why we see hate, we see racism, we see love, we see endurance, we see triumph and we see failure. The world has been reduced to a scoreboard for the human race.

When Donald Dump won the election in 2016 the most googled search words were “How to move to Canada”. I have to admit I am very happy he is not my president but I still loathe him like I loathe a venomous snake bite.

Back in the day it was not normal to know the day to day going on’s in other countries. You would be lucky to hear of a another countries national tragedy like when the shuttle blew up in 1988. The only reason we knew of it was because we watched it launch and then explode before our eyes. There was no internet to dissect the shit out of what went wrong and who’s to blame within minutes of said explosion.

The world has become way too quick to judge and even harder to forgive. As they say, ‘once its out there its out there forever’. I can’t wait for the Kardashian kids to grow up and see how embarrassing their parents were/still are. Thankfully my years of rebellion were void of memorialization through an iPhone. All I have are stories to tell and witnesses to corroborate, like the the time I stole my parents car at 15 and drove out to my boyfriend Stuart’s farm in the middle of the night or the raging party I had where my guests, and I say that loosely, microwaved my brothers fish and another moron, Corby Lehman, sat through a glass coffee table. I have a lot of crazy stories to tell but they will only be revealed if I decide to share them, verbally. Rarely did we take pictures. We had a camera that allowed us 12 pictures, none of them we could see and had to wait weeks to get them developed and mailed back. Sorry, I digress. My point is this, I did not have my bad behaviour, bad decisions, break up fights or raunchy party antics broadcast for the whole world to see.

I fear for the generations today and the ones to come that will have to censor themselves to survive in this pretty cruel world. No one can say what is on their mind for fear of public humiliation, losing their job or having their friends turn on them. Whether their words were right or wrong. I lived in the time when political correctness did not even exist in the dictionary. It didn’t have to, because if some redneck said something racist no one but him/her and their friends knew about it. Yes its shitty behaviour but it was theirs and theirs alone. Today that person would be hung from the proverbial gallows. The internet death penalty.

I fear for the girls growing up in a society that slathers the internet with sex and provocative lifestyles like sunscreen on a kids back. It’s brutal. Parents have more work to do with fewer tools in order to raise a good human being. I fear for the boys who have no idea how to be alone with a girl for the fear of not acting appropriately. Gone are the days of chivalry replaced by asking if your date would like you to hold the door, asking if she would like to be seated. This is as much a problem from the feminist movement, which I support, as it is from the MeToo movement, which I also support. Have we gone a little overboard in regards to female power/dominance, a little. I know I can open the door but I’d love to have a date hold it for me. Again, I digress.

I also fear for the LGBTQ generations to come. We still have not become a tolerant, unified society/world where we accept everyone as equals and with the current president in the White House it has gotten even scarier. He has set the world back 40 years. Just when we finally had a black man win the presidency we currently have a president dismantling all he did for those goals of unifying our world. It’s wrong on so many levels that I lose sleep over it.

Cyberbullying has become a brutal form of aggression. The bully hides behind a keyboard with absolutely no repercussions for hurting someone with awful, senseless and just down right nasty words. You are a fool if you don’t think words can hurt. Today, someone’s words has led to an epidemic in teenage suicide. This crime is hard to prosecute and even harder to track down. FaceBook, Twitter, InstaGram, SnapChat and all the other platforms out there can do little against a world full of hate and bigotry. They are merely the instruments and the most vial people in the world are the ones playing it. It is so hard to grow up now.

Social media leaves us feeling inadequate, lonely, bullied, lost, invisible, without a voice, victimized, terrorized and just plain awful about our own life. In my 47 years I have realized 2 things, 1. That there will always be people who seem happier than me and 2. That there are other people who seem sadder than I am. But what truly matters is what I see, how I feel, and the things that I can control. We don’t know the truth of course, because we view our world and the world of others through filters. Nothing is real. Don’t get me wrong, I love how my face looks in a cheeky Snapchat filter because I wished it truly looked that way, but its not me. At least I can show it to the world like the flawless photo is was designed to be.

Now let’s look at the other side of social media. The world where our cousin in London, England can join me for a Sunday meal through FaceTime, or we can watch the live birth of a distant relative or not miss a child’s football game while out of town for work. This pulling together of the 7 continents is a blessing on many levels. I love that I can meet up with an old high school friend, who I haven’t seen in 20 years, and talk about our lives like we never left school. It is a joy to share with those I love all my accomplishments and accolades for doing something good for the world. I can thank people out in the open so that others may see how they’ve touched my life. They deserve to be on a pedestal. So many families live countries away from each other but can text each other in real time. I text a friend of mine in Madrid all the time and its like she’s in the other room not 7000 miles away. Remember when we would go on a vacation, and with the high cost of long distance phone calls, we would not check in at home with parents or other relatives? We just went on a trip, took photos with a camera that had film in it and then we would return home. There was no instagramming every minute at the beach or FaceTiming gramps. We fell off the face of the earth and no one cared. They only cared if we didn’t return.

We can share all of our joy in the push of a button. The world can see how well we are doing, despite it. Social media has us held as willing hostages and while we share our life online, we get bombarded with ads and stories that our phones and computers have learned are something we might be interested in aka cookies. We no longer make our own decisions, we are manipulated into them. I could take this to a whole other level but lets just look at what happened to the 2016 US election because of the manipulation of our social media. A tyrant was elected because another tyrant interfered with, the like minded to Donald trump, Americans and created an uprising. Manipulated hate to elect more hate. It worked brilliantly. So what does this say about us? It says that we have lost our ability to think for ourselves, to draw our own conclusions and to make decisions based on truth instead of popularity. We forgot how to be decent to each other. To love your neighbour as you would love yourself.

Now I could go on forever on this topic but to sum it up, I would trade the solace and privacy of a world without the internet for the current nightmare we are dealing with now. The ‘truth will set us free’ has now become the ‘truth is up to the billions of internet users to decide’. There is no more truth. Look at CNN versus FOX News. 2 news station sharing what is supposed to be the truth with 2 diametrically opposite views. One of them the truth of course (CNN) and the other a spewer of lies. How can that be? There is only one truth, the truth. No wonder our world is so divided. Even people who know the truth won’t actually admit the truth out loud, even with indisputable evidence. One says: “The sky is red” and the majority of us say “no, it’s blue”. Proven by science on the reason why. the sky is blue and then that one idiot just sits there and says its red. That’s our current world. We have way too many people thinking the sky is red.

So for me social media is a foe but I will continue to use it to serve my purposes, like sharing this blog post with the proverbial world. Yes, its a double edged sword.

N

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