There is no debate that social media has changed the way society communicates.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Tweeter to name a few, have been a great blessing and a powerful curse all at the same time.
Whether they bless us or curse us in not in their power. They are only tools and there for have no power of their own. It is useless to be angry or upset with social media, as if it has a life of its own. The use of those tools is up to us. It is the same as when you hit your thumb with a hammer and blame the hammer for the pain. We make these tools what they are in our lives. We are responsible for their use and the consequences that go with them.
For most of us, social media has given the ability to connect with family and friends that otherwise, and has been in time past, would have been lost to us. As a mobile society, we have family all over the country or even the world. Social media allows us to be in touch instantly, daily if we wish. We can even talk face to face. That has been a God send for many.
My wife travels all over the world with her work. Because of these tools, we have from technology, we get to talk every day and see each other whether she is in Europe or China or wherever. This has been a great comfort and joy to us.
As a coach, I talk with people all over the world. I am no longer limited to those in my geographic area alone. I can reach out to people all over the world with ease and comfort. I have even spoke to groups of people via the internet and could see them while they saw me. It is wonderful and almost magical, when you think about it.
In business, many connections are made on social media and great opportunities have been developed. I began a relationship with my publisher after someone who worked for them had read my posts and asked if I would consider doing a book for them. Businesses find customer from social media, offer sales and special deals and are found by people seeking their service.
For business, both small and great, social media has opened many doors.
I have also seen the tool of social media misused by many. Lives have been shattered by carless and cruel things said and done on social media. Hate and all kinds of unspeakable evil has come into our homes through social media. It takes no detail description for you to understand what I am talking about here.
The presidential election was mainly fought (and I do mean fought) over social media. The daily release of damaging emails that were criminal as well as distressing to all who saw them. Tweets were fired off like bullets in a battle, wounding all who got in their way. Presidential elections have always been hard and unpleasant, however with the addition of social media, they have become down right ugly.
So, is the answer to condemn or remove social media for the harm it can cause?
Not at all. Like all freedoms, the freedom of speech can be used for good or for evil. Outlaw one area and you outlaw the whole. We see that happening in this country all the time. Under the disguise of curing a problem we see all freedoms fading away far too quickly.
We all must accept that in this world there are good people and evil people. If you are under the illusion that all people are basically good, open your eyes and look around. There always has been and always will be great evil in this fallen world. However, there has always been and always will be great good. In the end, the good will always triumph. It may not seem like that at times, but I promise you, it does.
“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.”
Amy Jo Martin (Author)
Not to get off track of our discussion of social media, how do we deal with this problem of misuses and abuse? First, you have got to understand that it is not social media that is the problem. Social media is just a tool and has no moral compass, makes no decisions and chooses no sides. It is the people that use social media that you must deal with. It is our choice on how social media is used, not the decision of the media itself. As American businessman, Simon Mainwaring said, ” Like all technology, social media is neutral but is best put to work in the service of building a better world.”
Another fact you need to understand is this: You cannot control, change or dictate to other people; you can only control yourself.
Our Creator, in His great love and wisdom, has given control over only one thing in the entire universe. You cannot control the weather, time, other people or even world hunger, you can only control your own attitude.
Social media is just a tool and has no moral compass, makes no decisions and chooses no sides.
When we make the decision on how we will think, believe, act and treat others, we have the greatest of all powers there is. The power of choice. The great Austrian psychologist and holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl said, ” Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
I believe there are times when it is good to be antisocial.
Times when you must make the decision not to share things on social media and not to receive those things that are negative and destructive. This choice is yours to make, not the choice of social media or the government or your mother. You must be responsible for yourself and you must be the one to, in your own way, make the world a better place.
I want to share with you four areas where it is good, and desirable, to be antisocial in social media.
Before we look at the four areas, I need you to see this reality that is so easily forgotten. Social media is social. That means that whatever you share is out there for the world to see.
Do not be fooled into thinking that only the person you tag sees your post.
Every one you are connected too sees it, as well as everyone they are connected to. That is what being social is all about. It is the same as standing in the public square and shouting out your secrets to the world. So, when you deal with any form of social media, always remember that it is called “social” for a reason.
Remember too that even things like photos, emails and blogs do not go away just because they are sorry for what you said. Case in point, the Clinton email scandals. Even those which were thought to be deleted showed up in time. Online technology in all its forms has a permanent memory and, with enough work, can expose all kinds of things.
The best way to not be caught in this trap of exposure is not to post, email or collect things you do not want others to see or use.
#1) It is Good to Be Antisocial When You are Angry
As children, we could sing, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me”. As adults, we come to understand that bones heal; but the wounds caused by carelessly spoken words never heal.
I have seen so many times on social media when one person is angry at another and they decide to speak out all they are feeling. Then when they cool down they come to regret what they have said. The problem is, you cannot take it back. Not only did you put it in writing, you wrote it to the world.
Recently, I saw a post from friend who was having a falling out with his wife. He said unkind and hurtful things that I know he will regret saying. Then, to make it all the worse, he carried on a discussion, online, with several people about how unfair and miserable his wife was.
It proved the adage, anger blocks out thinking and makes us stupid. I cringed as I read this exchange that I know will never go away and be a mark on their marriage forever.
The best way to avoid saying things you will one day regret is to not say them at all.
When it comes to social media, your grandmother’s advice was right: “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.”
Social media was created to connect people, share ideas and warm greetings, not to fight your personal battles over. For one, it is no one’s business what you are fighting about. Second, this is selfish and one sided. Even if you were right, you are wrong. You cannot win, come out on top or recover from such a stupid act. As John Wayne famously said, ” Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.”
Don’t make the mistake of talking in code either. We have all seen it.
Someone posts, “Some people are such idiots that they can’t do anything right.” Or, “You may think you smart but you can go @#&%$ yourself.” The next thing you see is 52 comments all saying, “What’s wrong?” Come on now, you know exactly what you are doing. You want people to wonder. Your comment is not really for the person you are angry with but for the rest of mankind to see. That is childish to the extreme.
Here is the simple rule to follow. When you are angry, do not post anything.
If you must write it down, keep a journal that you alone will see. You do not have the right to throw up on the rest of the world just because your feelings were hurt. No matter what that hurt was caused by.
In fact, the greater the offence the more you should not post it to social media. Find a friend, Pastor, counselor or someone to talk to if you must. I am not saying that you must hold it in, but you do have to express yourself properly. The goal should always to find a solution; to get resolve, it is never to get even or cause more pain.
#2) It is Good to Be Antisocial When You Are Spiteful
There is no reason to justify being spiteful.
The very meaning of the word means to do things just to hurt or cause problems. Anger is a striking out. It causes hurt, but that is not always the motive, and when it is, it is more of a revenge than strategic plan. Spite, on the other hand is a deliberate act for no other reason than to hurt, offend or cause pain.
Spite in a person shows lack of character, honesty and compassion. These are people to avoid. As Pope Francis said, “Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful.”
In social media, you will find the spiteful people are the ones who have something bad to say about everyone. They may disguise it under the name of political opinion, religious fever or even social justice. However, they do not look at facts, debate points of view or offer solutions, they only focus on assassinating a person’s character, spreading gossip, reinforcing lies and slander.
I believe that we all have the freedom to speak what we wish.
We all have different political and religious views and that too is good. Spitefulness comes in when you think that the best way to promote your political or religious views is by destroying the lives of those who disagree with you.
I have seen countless times people from all political view, say things about political leaders they know are not true, yet, they reinforce these lies, not to show they are right but that the person in question is wrong.
I have seen the same thing happen in religious circles. There is room for a lot of discussion and differing opinions between groups or individuals, however, when it becomes slanderous and has no purpose but to gossip and hurt others, then we have gone from opinion to spitefulness.
One of the things I have found in common among those who place spiteful posts is that the things they are stressing are not that important. Complaining about what a political candidate did when they were in college or even younger is silly. We have all done things we are ashamed of, but a wonderful thing happens in the following years – we grow up. I want to know the character of a person today, not when they were 14.
The same is true with accusing religious leaders of immoral acts that you “think” happened.
Anyone who accuses another person of something should be willing to 1) prove their accusation and 2) be willing to have people consider their lives as well.
Yes, I believe that immorality, corruption, and criminal actions should be confronted, however, social media is not the place. 90% of what you see on social media is either untrue, distorted, misinformed or a deliberate lie. Not to mention the fact that it is none of your business. If you disagree with someone or feel they have done something wrong, disconnect from them, do not buy their books or whatever, but do not become them.
I think you should express your political and religious views on social media, however, use those views to support, what you believe, not to challenge what others believe.
Present solutions or ways to find solutions, not problems and challenges you can do nothing about.
Be a problem solver and not a problem maker.
You do not have to keep your views, beliefs and opinions to yourself, just use them to make things better. Give people something to think about, not get angry at. And remember this: Freedom of speech means you can say what you wish, it does not mean others have to listen to you.
#3) It is Good to Be Antisocial When You Have Secrets
I think one of the most unintentional, yet hurtful things people do on social media is telling the world other people secrets.
I say unintentional because most of the time is was never meant to be hurtful. People are excited about an event or news in a loved one’s life and they want to share it. Many do not realize how hurtful it is till it is too late to take it back.
Social media has developed a thinking in people that they need to be the first to tell the news.
Things travel so fast that many people feel they have got to get it posted before someone else does; that includes the people who the news belongs to in the first place. If they stop to think, they will soon realize that it is not their news to tell. No matter how important, exciting or urgent, unless you are asked to share it, it is not yours to share.
I have heard from many who have been hurt over a friend or even a family member share their engagement, a baby coming, a promotion or even the death of a loved one. Before they can even think about how to announce their news, there it is all over social media. The people posting this may not think it is a big deal, or even think they are helping, however, it is very hurtful and just bad manners in every way.
If you know of an event, happy or sad, that is happening in a person’s life please do not share it, tell it or even hint at it until they have done so. They may ask you to share or give you their permission to share at times. In these cases, you can share but only the facts. Never embellish or add what you think is happening.
The need to get the news out can be seen clearly in the case of the general news cycle. It is hard to fill a 24-hour news cycle let alone adding social media. To be the first, news is often released that is incomplete or downright wrong. Then, those of us who read the news want to be the first to share with those who may have not seen it and we post things that we do not know are factual.
Soon it is how Mark Twain described it, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on.”
Do yourself, and everyone else, a favor and always get the facts before you post any kind of news and story.
For one it will save you the embarrassment of being proved wrong, second, you will hurt less people that way, and third, you will be doing a better job than many journalists. And as I said before, if it is negative or hurtful news about someone else, famous or not, don’t share it at all. It serves no purpose but to make you feel you are “in the know”, when in reality, you are not.
#4) It is Good to Be Antisocial When Your Being Poisoned
There is no greater poison known to mankind than that of negativity, criticism, vulgarity and untruth.
They are like arsenic, a little at a time is not noticeable but it builds in your system till it becomes a lethal dose. This poison is in abundant supply on social media. Every day millions of posts are uploaded that do nothing except cause hurt, destruction and bitterness.
Here is the good news, you can control it. Freedom of speech, as I said before, is a good thing and a freedom we must protect. To outlaw one area of speech is to outlaw all areas.
However, just because a person has the freedom to say what they wish does not mean they have the right to be listened to.
The best defense in stopping negative and hateful speech is to not listen to it. It is really that simple and you have the power to do it.
When you see someone, even a friend or family member who is constantly posting negative and hurtful things, you have the power to block those posts from ever coming to your door. If it is someone you care about, warn them first. Maybe they do not realize they are so negative.
I had a friend, who I cared very much for, who was always posting negative and lengthy post about everything they saw other people talking about. I told them that it was disturbing and that I have not read then and would block them if it continued. I did this by the way of a personal message so as not to correct them publicly and embarrasses them; there by doing the same thing I was correcting them for doing. I told them I cared for them and would still be their friend, however I would not allow them to poison me every day with this ranting. They felt that they had “a purpose” in doing this and so I blocked them.
For most of us, we have thousands of “friends” on social media. Most likely, 90% + are people you really have never met.
Do not allow a stranger to poison you every day just so you can say you have 2000 friends. That is foolish.
I go through my list of “friends” every month and I remove anyone who has been telling me lies (yes, I know it is not “me” but a general post, still, I get it), feeding negative thoughts or posting anything I find foul or explicit. This does not include people I may disagree with.
I love the fact that social media has connected me with people of different, social, political and religious views. I want to know what people think and believe. That is the spice of life. However, you can disagree and yet not be offensive or destructive.
One more thing that people do and should not be tolerated, and that is carrying on arguments on other people’s posts.
This is when, let’s say, you post an opinion you have about something in the news. A friend posts a comment where they see it differently. Another friend, who may even be agreeing with you, posts a comment to the first person and tells them what an idiot they are and how they don’t understand anything. That in turn is followed by another comment by the person being attacked and they tell the attacker that they are the idiot. And on and on it goes. The person who’s page this is going on is not even in the argument. Never allow that to happen. My advice is to quickly, like at the first comment, tell them that you do not want them fighting on your page. If this continues, block them.
Do not see blocking people as rude or wrong.
They do have the freedom to say what they wish just as you have the freedom not to listen.
Believe me, if more people just ignored all the trash that is out there, not only on social media but also on TV, radio or the movies, we would see a lot less of it. This is the greatness of the free market system. Money and interest control the content. Take away the money and you take away the problem.
Now It’s Up To You
Social media is a wonderful tool and we should use it properly and to make the most of it. But with any tool, you must respect it and recognize the dangers.
When misused it can be a very strong force for evil, when use correctly, it is a wonderful force for good.
In the end, it all comes down to us. We must be responsible and we have to take control.