Social Media: The Good and the Bad

I don’t want to get overtly political or up on a huge soapbox right now, but I have been thinking a lot since events over the weekend with the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado occurred and seeing other things pop up in the news and online in the last few days.

Social media and it’s many forms can connect the world to each other in so many places almost immediately.  That is pretty amazing.  And we thought email was pretty neat not so long ago. 🙂  I love that there are stories being told at the time they are occurring.  It’s a new way to trace history and events.  The crazy fact that we can add pictures, video and links to our tweets, texts, posts, etc. makes it even more amazing.

It also gives a platform from which you can share your thoughts, ideas and express yourself.  That’s huge as well.  Sometimes there are people who can’t verbalize out loud what they need to say or want to say but they can write it.  Sometimes I’m in that category.  It’s also not good to let thoughts and ideas fester and keep them inside without sharing.  Social media also provides a way to be encouraged (follow a biz leader, speaker, etc.), have a laugh (@ShakespeareSing is entertaining), learn something new, collaborate, get news, etc.  It’s pretty incredible.  I love these things about social media.

Today I am wondering with all that is in the news today and misinformation that does get out before it can be checked, are we becoming a more judgmental society since we’re now able to share so quickly and easily or are we just at a new precipice in our world where people can simply be more vocal about their thoughts, ideas and opinions than they were in the past and we’ve got to get used to that?

I don’t know.  On one hand, I think we are simply in a brand new, unprecedented place with technology where we’ve really got to get the etiquette in order.  On the other hand, our world tells us to make quick decisions, go with the flow and it’s all good…as long as we agree.  How dare you have a different opinion and want to talk about it in a civil manner.  The world seems to get up in arms with hate for a differing opinion so quickly these days.  It also bothers me that we can tend to see the “two face” (ah, knew I’d get a Batman reference in here…) side of others through social media.  This being the “bad” side of social media.  In our day to day life we see someone do one thing and then as soon as we hear something on the news or through social media, we find they suddenly disagree when the information has been our there for so long.  If a drug company head were to come out and say something you disagree with, would you stop taking a medication you NEED simply because you disagree with him?  I doubt it.

I don’t know if any of this is making sense but it’s still something I’m processing.  I keep thinking back to a series at church on our words and their power in the book of James.  I’m still processing it even today and it was three years ago.  Powerful and hasn’t left me.  Check out James 3:5-6, 9-10.

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

It’s quite honestly scary to know that girls put youtube videos of themselves up asking strangers if they are beautiful in order to feel validated and valued.  It’s scary to know that websites exist where you can pop in info about yourself online and find out the best way for you to commit suicide.  It’s frightening to know the realities of cyberbullying (being in a middle school, I’ve talked about this with kids a lot).  It’s scary to know that a girl posted her thoughts on something with a movie or tv show, was then blasted for those thoughts and subsequently committed suicide.  Awful.  And these may be extreme cases, but little things build up.

Our words have power.  How often do we think about the power of our words when we write a text?  Tweet?  Give a status update on Facebook?  Write a blog post?  React to what someone else has said in a disagreement?  Retweet and share are interesting creatures here…  You can retweet or share someone’s thought as your own and add your input.  Not a bad thing though sometimes you might not know where the info or thought is coming from directly.  The rapidity with which we share or retweet in the heat of the moment or on a topic that sets us off…that’s dangerous at times.  And negativity breeds negativity.  We can speak life or death.  Encouragement or failure.  Love or hate.  And most importantly, speak the truth in love even if it is hard and means pushing someone outside their comfort zone.

Lots to still think about and ponder that are a part of this larger conversation but I hope we all start thinking of the power of our words.  No matter where they are put, on paper, online, in a text, tweet, post or said aloud to someone or even to ourselves, words are powerful.

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