By: Reenita V.
I love social media. It’s an easy accessible way for me to connect with my loved ones who are scattered world-wide. It is also a great tool to share information, learn, communicate and of course, indulge in videos and pictures of adorable animals doing adorable things. But lately, social media has become a tunnel of hate and negativity. The occasional beach vacation picture pops up in my newsfeed but is surrounded by articles of hate, death, and racism. It is not that these events are new; it’s just now they are apparent to the dominant culture and now the hot, trending thing to discuss. We should discuss and create conversations; this is how we can learn and grow as a society, but we need to be aware of our impact. But how can we do that when it seems that the world is literally falling apart.
First, the age of social media has created a platform for anyone to share and say what they want whenever they want too. If you share an opinion, be prepared for a counter-argument to your thoughts. You do not need to be a master debater but be prepared for criticism. How you navigate that criticism is your choice and you have the right to remove a friend, debate or ignore – it is your social media outlet. But playing the social media game means that opinions are coming, so be prepared and create a plan on how to navigate thoughts or ideas that you may not agree with. It will happen.
When sharing articles, check your sources! If you are sharing an article that you think will create an impact and is important, read it and find out if what you’re sharing is real. Headlines are meant to grab your attention but there is an entire body of work that may misarticulate what you are actually trying to share. Remember, anyone can do anything on the internet so check who wrote or posted what you are sharing. Even “credible” media outlets don’t always get the story right so it’s important to know what you are sharing and that the words and images actually represent your thoughts. It’s understandable that not everyone has the time to sit and read everything but why share if what you are sharing is inaccurate or falsely represents you.
Be compassionate and aware of what you share. Everyone is unique and created from different experiences which mean people are affected in different ways. If you choose to share an article to all your friends, that is your prerogative. But be aware that you may trigger someone. Perhaps be kind and make it known that what you are sharing might evoke pain or trigger trauma. We have become so desensitized to violence and the imagery and words that come along are not easy for everyone to live with. Years ago, I read an article which had a warning about violence but I read it anyways and to this day I cannot speak about what I read and remembering what I read makes me sick. I made that choice though. We live in a world where sticks and stones are not the only things that will now hurt us.
Lastly, and perhaps a really important social media shield, get off social media. Have dinner with friends, go for a walk with your partner just power down and go talk. Take the conversations that we are typing out and have an actual face-to-face conversation. Find love and compassion in sharing spaces with a loved one or strangers. Create positive human interactions and make time to exchange energy that doesn’t need to be transmitted via the inter-webs. The world, on the internet or real life, is a mess but it’s our mess to address and we cannot do that by just cycling hatred and arguments while hiding behind a computer.