Social media is always tense. People are always mad at you for not saying exactly what hey want to hear. But sometimes are worse than others. We have to create balance in our lives. My teenage daughter’s are experiencing the hell of needing to say the right thing to their “friends”. By the age of 11, kids know how to bully each other for not being politically correct or properly engaged in the social demands of popular culture.
Here is how I am trying to get through. As always, I’m not sharing what I believe as it relates to the death of George Floyd while in police custody, or the resulting response. I will talk about what social media is good at, and terrible at, during sustained events such as this.
What Social Media Does Well
Letting you know what’s going on. Social media lets you connect with local politicians, and random people on the street. These up-to-the-minute updates can be way better than local news. They let me know what was going on at 1:30 AM last night while my daughter and I watched the smoke rise from a couple local banks.
Let people get their frustrations out in a safe, completely ineffective way. Sharing your opinion on social media is safe. It doesn’t hurt anyone. It doesn’t change anything, but it is much nicer than looting, arson, or vandalism. And you don’t have to worry about being caught on video breaking the law.
Sharing what you think with a few people. Creating a small group with respectful contributors is a great way to explore meaningful truth. Just keep that stuff from going public.
What Social Media Does Poorly
Make attacking others seem like a virtue. The most common interaction I have seen on social media is fighting with each other for having a slightly different opinion. Or the wrong kind of outrage. It is not enough to be outraged. You must be the right amount of outraged for precise reasons. If you fall short, you are the enemy.
Make Blocking People Your Super Power
This is my new slogan. People need to understand they don’t have to read everything on social media. If you follow someone and they stomp on your mental health, block their posts from reaching your feed. Or unfriend them. You do not need to fill your head with weak ideas or poisonous people. Here is my personal list of blockable offenses:
- Making everything about politics. If your answer to every problem is voting a particular political party, you are not adding anything of value to the conversation. (I un-followed two people this week for this)
- Threatening to punish me for not saying the right thing. I don’t owe the public an official response. I have to follow my conscience, and very rarely does my conscience lead me to share deep thoughts on public social media. (My daughters have experienced this threat all weekend)
- Attacking someone for sharing their opinion (unless it is abhorrent). If someone says Hitler did some good things for Germany, then yeah, you can attack them verbally online. If someone mostly agrees with you, but you pick on them for saying it the wrong way or “watering down the message”, I’m going to assume you don’t have anything to say I want to hear. (I un-followed three people this week for this)
- Outing someone for something they said in private. If you screen capture something someone said in confidence and share publicly to shame them, you are getting blocked. And not the nice kind of blocked where I don’t see your posts on my feed. I am going to make it impossible for you to see me or interact with me on social media at all. This is the worst form of betrayal on social media. (My daughter has a friend going through this)