NOTE: This post is going to be different than the usual fare around here. It is a bit more personal. It has nothing to do with business, or making money. Instead, it is about my opinion about how each of us can help make the world a little bit better.
We’ve all done it. Or at least most of us.
You get pissed off about something that happens to you, and you turn to Facebook to rant.
Or perhaps you rant about politics on social media. Or post news stories.
Or perhaps you do the exact opposite… posting only the good things that happen to you and your family while leaving out any of the bad stuff.
Or, if you’re younger, maybe you’re into selfies. Whatever. 😉
We all have different reasons and ways of using social media. But, let me ask you this…
Have you ever thought about the effect on OTHERS of your posts?
Now, let me come at this from an entirely different direction…
Have you ever looked at all that is going on in the world and wondered what you can do about it?
Do you watch the news and sometimes get hit with the feeling that the world is going nuts, but you’re too small and inconsequential to have any impact at all?
In case you haven’t noticed, the world is kinda nuts right now. We are departing from common sense on so many fronts. On the international stage, there is quite a bit happening and, unfortunately, I believe has the patterns of another large scale war in the making. On the national front, it seems like almost anything which is common sense is fought tooth and nail while our government consistently goes the exact opposite direction on most issues from what they should do.
And on top of that, there’s killings, murders, controversies, racial strife… the list goes on.
Now, I just said all that… and some may simply accept that as fact. I mean, its on the news, right?
But, what is the GLUE which holds all of that stuff together?
I contend that it is the press.
The Effect Of The Traditional Media
Today’s press is not the relentless seeker of the truth that it started as. Sure, there are random bouts of journalism which happen, but mostly, today’s press is agenda driven and commercial driven.
Their bills get paid the more you pay attention to them and the more you buy things. So, the commercials and even the programming is designed to foster inadequacy in you so that you’ll fulfill that vacuum by purchasing things. And the news content is designed to keep you scared and bothered… why?… so you’ll keep them on.
They make everything seem alarming, and they rapidly switch from one story to the next, equating everything. It literally creates paranoia and fear.
The political class do a very fine job of dividing people into teams based on politics. You take two Americans who would usually agree on almost everything which is actually important in life… but they’ll view each other practically as alien life forms. Why? Because they support a different candidate? WHO CARES?! The entire partisan teamsmanship thing just divides people and pits people against each other using fear and hatred. And the only people who benefit from it are the political class eager to maintain their own power.
It goes right on down the line…
Politicians concoct controversy out of thin air to rile people up and scare them into voting one way or the other.
The press reports nothing but controversy, murders and mayhem in an effort to make you think the world is extremely dangerous and the only way to not be in danger is to keep watching them for the latest headlines.
The race industry actively pours gas on every potential controversy, continually trying to convince whole races of people that their problems are because of their skin color and that their solution is to vote a certain way and send money to certain somebodys.
Terrorists now do most of what they do to create terror in others via the cameras.
In all these cases, the glue which holds it together is mostly the press. The amount of crap that is done merely for the optics of it and for the PR value is astounding. It is an entire worldwide flow of communication which does one primary thing…
Makes you feel small, powerless, inadequate, and in danger. Or motivate you into thinking or acting in a certain way.
Enter social media…
Social media is the great magnifier. While the press controls the conversation by being quite deliberate about what they decide to point their cameras at (and they rarely show all the good which is happening in the world), social media is really a great equalizer.
I think social media is a POWERFUL tool on a worldwide scale. Because it serves to remove the middleman (which is all those power brokers I mentioned above which manipulate for their own purposes) and instead allows regular people to have what is potentially a worldwide platform.
It truly has the power to change the world, and it already has.
The power brokers still use social media to manipulate. Politicians can plant almost any message or stat they want and their followers will blindly share it, thereby creating “truth” where there is none in reality. And that’s just one example.
If the terrorists want to freak everybody out, they can post a violent video online and it’ll spread on social media. Then, the news media picks it up and all of a sudden the simple act of recording a video can have a worldwide impact.
It is the magnifier effect at work.
But, there’s a difference. See, the press is what it is. They’re going to magnify death and destruction because it is what they do, and unfortunately enough people still blindly trust the press that it keeps them in business.
With social media, who is in control?
Us. You and me, as individuals.
And what is being magnified? Whatever we post.
So, it begs the question…
It wasn’t that long ago that a study was done that linked increased usage of Facebook to depression and suicide rates. I tend to believe that. My theory is this…
While the news preaches death and destruction and controversy, many people have solved that problem by tuning it out. And even the ones who do pay attention, they’ve likely parked most of the happenings into the department of “over there”. They think those things are “over there” and “they” will deal with it. It doesn’t really connect with them.
With social media, a lot of what’s being posted is from people we know. It hits a lot closer to home. But, often, what is posted is quite different.
Most people tend to post life’s highlight reel. Every good thing which happens, they’ll post it. If they go to a party, they’ll post a selfie. They rarely ever post any of the more mundane things in life. And so, from the outside, you end up giving off an impression that your life is perfect.
On the receiving end of things, a person could easily be left with the impression that everybody’s life is awesome except for your own. After all, you know all of your own “baggage”. You see your own “behind the scenes”. But online, you’re pretty much seeing everybody’s highlight reel.
The other problem with social media is how, for some, it tends to de-humanize other human beings. There have been big bullying problems online among kids because somehow we have failed to instill in these kids a respect of their fellow human beings. So, these people who would be total cowards in real life suddenly grow a set of fake balls online and vent off their frustrations by attacking others online, all thinking it isn’t real, or hiding behind an online identity.
I could likely go on for awhile. But, the way I see it, if social media is a magnifier, then each one of us can take some responsibility for WHAT is being magnified.
Because despite all that I talked about above, the truth is that MOST of it is posturing. It is appearance.
Sure, bad things happen. But, the truth is that there is WAY more good happening in this world every single day than there is bad.
We, as human beings, are very flexible and varied creatures. Our capacity for love and brotherhood knows no bounds, and those who hate are vastly outnumbered by the rest of us.
WE are the majority.
Despite any political labels, colors, religions or any of it… almost all of us believe in certain basic common sense ideals. Generally, we want others to be happy. We want to be happy ourselves. We want to succeed. We want to belong. We want love and camaraderie. Most of us are perfectly willing to respect others as long as they respect us back.
But, these truths are not what is magnified by today’s press. And it leads people astray.
Social media is a magnifier of us. And I think each and every one of us has the power – and quite frankly a responsibility – to ensure that we are not a magnifier of what is bad, but instead a magnifier is what is good.
We can each play our part to help counter-balance the bullcrap propagated onto society by what today passes as the “news”.
How To Exercise Some Social Media Responsibility
I think it starts with being considerate of people on the other end of your social media account… and ends with being real with yourself what your objective is.
Put another way… is your post going to do more harm than good? Do you even think about the impact?
Here are some bad reasons to post something, in my opinion:
- To spread bad news which has nothing to do with you.
- To further a partisan political agenda (hint: you’re not changing anybody’s mind. Seriously.)
- To try to impress others (seriously, why would you feel the need to do that?)
- To complain (sure, sometimes a rant is warranted, but we’ve all seen those people who just bitch all the time online.)
On the flip side, some GOOD reasons to make a post:
- To make somebody laugh.
- To spread good news or information they could truly use.
- To inspire.
- To have a real discussion (and I mean one where you’re actually willing to listen and understand, not simply speed read then respond. We should all be doing more listening to others.)
I must admit, this is an evolution for me. In the past, my weakness has been politics. I have done my share of political debate and I now realize that not only was it a waste of everybody’s time, but it was also just propagating the divisiveness that OTHER people created. Politicians and the power class instilled these weird controversies and I would end up arguing with somebody over it, whereas in regular everyday life I’d think they were great people.
So, I stopped. It isn’t that I avoid politics necessarily, it is just that it is much more rare. And, if I go there, I do it for the sake of discussion. Not to “win”. We all need to be doing more listening and understanding… rather than simply blurting out responses aimed at winning a debate.
This post was a bit of a rant. But, it was something on my mind and something that I believe is relevant to all of us.
We each have more power to influence the world than we give ourselves credit for.
And I think each of us can exercise a little more responsibility for the happiness of our fellow human beings.
This is social MEDIA. That word “media” is pretty important. The traditional media has chosen their side. They fully intend to continue to spread doom and gloom, while remaining the magnifier for those who seek control and power.But, social media… that is you. You’re in the driver seat. You control the message.And like a ripple in a pond, the effect spreads.
If each of us, in our own circles, think a little more about our own responsibility for the message we help magnify into the world…
… then those circles eventually meet. And minds change. And the world doesn’t seem as dangerous as it once did.
Remember, we outnumber those who spread hatred. Let’s start acting like it. I think we could drown them out and make them less relevant.
And that, my friends, would do a lot to save the world.