Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On social media, divisiveness and a Trinified society

The realm of social media has fascinated me for a long time. At first, it was like a new toy that I wanted to play with constantly -- it was addicting and consuming. I had to learn how to use it prudently. Then, it became a medium for reconnecting and establishing new friendships. Ultimately, however, it has become a headache.

In this forum, we try to develop connections that seem real and tangible; most often they are artificial and superficial.

What do I mean by that?

Well, we truly do not know most of the people with whom we are dealing. We will most likely never meet these people who engage us in daily conversation/interactions online. And often, we limit our engagement to only people who share our perspective or make us feel good about our position on a matter, whether it be faith, politics, family, you name it.

It's a "safe zone" of sorts. An insulated opinion bubble in which we hide ourselves and find validation for our own opinions and put up a facade about ourselves that is completely unrealistic. For instance, I post pictures of my food; it looks tempting and delicious most of the time. You will never taste that food, and very possibly, it could taste like utter crap. But, everyone says I'm an amazing cook. It's validating and it strokes my ego. That made me stop and take pause a couple of years ago -- and I stopped posting so many pictures of my food. It was becoming prideful.

Back to the bigger point. Even I have come to established one of those "safe zones" where I can test opinions among a like-minded crowd before sending them out to the public realm. However, I am finding trouble stating opinions without getting shouted at, called divisive, etc. even in that space. In a place where once I felt comfortable to put out a critique and have a discussion, I am now getting shouted down. No argument or discussion. Just name calling and high anxiety posts.

This is so disturbing to me and it should be to you.

I posted at the beginning of 2017 that I wanted to branch out and return to actual engagement with human beings for my socialization. I wanted to have "real" friendships again, away from the screen and the comm boxes and the virtual relationship. I am headed there now.

It is my contention that the world of social media itself is divisive. There is no accountability for one's information being accurate, no filter for one's opinions, and no consequence for being mean-spirited or downright obnoxious in this fantasy realm of relationships.

Who needs that?

I have big opinions. I fact check and sometimes someone else comes up with alternative facts. If I am wrong, I often apologize and move forward. But, the tone has changed. I want to have civilized discussions/debate. However, the forum, even among a select group of people I have come to trust, has devolved into name calling and malicious sentiment.

We are meant to be a society that is Trinified, made in the image and likeness of God and respresentative of this truth. For the most part, I don't see this on social media anymore. And, now I am being told loudly that my attitudes and opinions displayed there are also lacking. This is frustrating in a very real way.

I will henceforth post pictures of puppies, food and things of little substance intellectually because this medium has left the realm of intellectual discovery and discourse.

Here you are social media -- my effort for today.

I'm going to get a cup of coffee and call a real friend.

God help us all figure out how to interact again for the sake of the salvation of mankind.

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