Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Social Media is Ruining Us All

Any time something seems to go wrong in the world, you will inevitably hear the rallying cry of "SOCIAL MEDIA IS RUINING US ALL!"

Short attention spans? Social Media.

Kid can't spell? Social media.

No one talks face to face anymore? Social media.

Your boyfriend's talking to his high school prom date and now they might fall in love and run away and get married leaving you all alone to wither and die and have your face chewed off by your housecat? 

Yep. Social media.

There are lots of things wrong with the world, and most of them, I contend, are not the fault of social media. Or at least not totally.

Kids (and adults) don't pay attention in general. Because we're all jackasses who are super-concerned with ourselves. It's the human condition; not Facebook.

Kids can't spell? Take a look at some social media. I took weekly spelling tests with a lot of you fools out there, and some of your posts look like you threw a bunch of scrabble tiles in a Yahtzee cup and just let it fly.

No one talks face-to-face? Maybe you're not that interesting. Just kidding. You're totally interesting. Please don't leave me.

And maybe your boyfriend's just a jerk and you deserve better. And maybe your cat will chew your face off anytime because you're just so dang delicious.

Me? I'm a fan of social media. As an introvert living in an extrovert's world, I adore Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. Social media has helped me connect with people all over the world. It gives me a place to fanatically follow my favorite sports teams (sometimes LITERALLY putting me on the road to follow them -- thanks, Shawn). Social media helps me find/comment on/snark about television shows I'm watching. It gives me access and recommendations of painfully exquisite writing that blows my mind and inspires me daily. It lets me reconnect with people who changed my life, like my 4th grade teacher (Hi, Mrs. Gooch! *waves frantically*) or my high school typing teacher (look what I can do, Coach Smith!) and keep up with friends I can't see daily. Social media has helped me create dozens of new friends and colleagues that I would never, ever have met otherwise. And many times, those people can relate to me in ways that just aren't always so relatable over a plate of cheese enchiladas where I have to look you in the eye.

How could anyone hate such a thing?

But we do. Because we're Americans and that's what we do. We use something on and on and on to the point where it makes us sick to even look at it but conveniently catches the blame for all of our inadequacies.

Yay, America.

Also, the point of tonight's topic (on the #Write30 Challenge) is to talk about the "Five Worst Things About Social Media", and I'm a rule follower by nature, so here it goes.

1. Debbie Downers.
There is nothing wrong with posting something that is sad or difficult or might make someone uncomfortable, but -- Sweet Baby Jesus -- I shouldn't have to brace myself or bear-hug my sweet kitty, Maggie Mae, so I can get through your inevitable sky-falling. An occasional cry for help is okay (see my Facebook just last Monday), but some of y'all are shouting at the void.


You're not my mom, so stop telling me what to do, where to shop, and how to eat. You call it "friendly advice". I call it digital tyranny. I don't want your make-up. I don't want your vitamins. I don't want your recipes. Unless you're going to post that recipe for bacon-wrapped tater tots dipped in brown sugar and then baked. Because I'm okay with that one. I don't even have to make them. I'll just watch the video over and over and over again and dream delicious dreams.

3. Politics, religion, and other stuff not meant for the dinner table.

For a long time -- an extraordinarily long time, truthfully -- I managed to keep my mouth shut about politics, religion, and other stuff not meant for the dinner table. It took a great deal of effort to keep my opinions to myself, but I was taught that some things should just not be discussed in mixed company. I've had to work extremely hard at reminding myself that a person's politics don't equal a person's entire being. There are some people out there who differ from me vastly, but I still love them and they still love me, I think. (Hey, y'all.) In fact, I'm always incredibly proud when I see people discuss and debate politely with facts and without name-calling. It's rare but beautiful -- like a unicorn or a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that peels away from the paper unscathed. It also leads me to my next point:

4. The MEDIA.

Any idiot with a keyboard and an internet signal can call themselves "media". I'm not talking about actual journalists with actual experience and degrees and all sorts of fanciness. I mean the blow-hard, agenda-promoting, super right/left wing extremists that sometimes fill my social media screen. And what's worse than them is the fact that so many of my social media contacts quote/link/post them as actual news sources. What you see should not always be believed. Or shared. Often you reveal more about yourself than whomever you're trying to cast doubt upon with that 72 page slideshow from IT'S IN THE NAME Y'ALL. YOU DON'T NEED 72 SLIDES TO UNDERSTAND THEIR AGENDA.

5. Its addictive nature.

Social media, as I've stated before (it's right up there at the top for those of you with short attention spans -- thanks social media) can be FANTASTIC. It can, however, completely overwhelm you and hold your life hostage if you let it. You shouldn't count on your Instagram to make you famous or worry about your Twitter follower count or obsess about how many "likes" your latest post got on Facebook. But we do. We all do. It makes us feel good because it makes us part of a community. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that until you're the person knocking on every neighbor's door at 4:00 AM looking for a fix. Then you're just "that" follower/friend, and it might be time to back away from the keyboard and go find a real-live-friend. Grab some cheese enchiladas. Make unnecessarily awkward eye contact. Join a spelling bee.

You know... connect like we used to before the world went to Hell because of social media.

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