Social media has done much to make the world a smaller place; by keeping us all connected by this or that electronic gadget. Social media does, indeed, offer many positive benefits. We no longer have to subscribe to a morning paper to get the latest headlines. Blogs and forums offer a variety of information and viewpoints. We can now meet our potential mate without ever having to leave the comfort of our easy chair. But it can have devasting and depremental effects, too. News is the perfect example.
Take any big media story; wildfires, terrorism, natural disasters...any one will do. Depending on the angle/viewpoint the media uses to cover it, we can think about only the negative aspects of the event, or we can can see some good. Case in point: Hurricane Katrina. The news media focused a great deal of attention on the fact that African Americans were looting all of the storm-ravaged businesses...stealing them blind. Not nearly as much attention was given, unfortunately, to the countless volunteers who worked day and night rescuing people, saving stranded pets, and giving aid to the sick, injured, and dying. There's no denying that Hurricane Katrina was a brutal act of nature, we all got that, but why focus on things like only a few individuals, from a certain minority group. that may have been doing something bad? Why? Because it fosters racial tension. And gets higher ratings. Social media can not only influence our believes, but can also turn us into something we're not; hate mongers. If we hear things over and over again, it becomes very easy to start believing what we're told; and lose sight of what we know, at our core level, to be true. Mind control isn't anything new; it just that know it's a common everyday occurence and not something that's only used in war, or by dictorships and fascist governments to control their citizens. We can fall victim to it, unwittingly, every time we turn on our computer or TV.
Media influences our spending, our views on politics, sexual attitudes, body image, as well as race relations, celebrityism, and just about every aspect of our lives. So, does the good outweigh the bad? Each of us has our own opinion on the subject, and it's not up to me to say yes or no. We each have to decide for ourselves what we want to do with all the social media that abounds these days.
There are ways, however, to use the many benefits of social media and still not get sucked into their hype:
Limit the amount of social media that you use everyday. Too much of a good thing, in this case anyway, can be bad...really bad. And watch or listen to several different points of view before deciding who or what to believe. Think about it, what version of the story fits with your closest, true beliefs about the world and who' way out in left field?Monitor what you watch. By now, we all know who the good purveyors of news are and who are the ones that tend to promote bad stuff. Why watch negativity when there is positive and good things happening all the time? To find it, we may jsut simply need to change the change or find a new "app." I don't mean we should become like the proverbial ostrich with it's head in the sand. Watch what you need to watch to get a well-rounded view of the event, person, or situation. Then, make up your own mind. There's no need to focus solely on the negatives. That isn't going to help make anything better. Learn to decipher what's true and what's someone's point of view. That isn't always easy but, with a little practice, we can tell who's giving us "just the facts, m'am" and who's spounting their own beliefs and trying to convince us to change our's to their's. And if you're in the market for a new social media outlet, talk to friends and family about which ones they use and seem to enjoy. With so many choices...all vying for our attention, we have many, many options. And some are WAY better than others. Support the ones that are legitimately trying to do good or, at least, not purposefully trying to cause harm. Finally, and this is a big one, learn to trust your own judgement. Just because Celebrity XYZ believes something or other, doesn't mean we have to, as well.
We each have been given a mind that is capable of great feats. One of which is deciding what we want to believe, what our points of views are. We have an GPS syatem that guides us, if we listen to it, to do and think the right things. Having a clear sense of self and what we stand for, at our very basic core, can help us immeasurably when it comes to sorting out the angles and devils on social media. Just because it's on social media, does not make it true!