on Social Media

Social Media had so much potential… it promised faster, easier, more robust, and vastly more interactive ways to communicate with friends and family.

What happened? What happened to destroy its promise? What turned Social Media from social, to selling? When did people decide punching “messages” from their own little pulpit, or selling whatever it is they want to sell was worth discarding any semblance of social for the hard-sell? Greed for fortune, fame, glory, or notoriety has co-opted the promise of Social Media.

Not only is there virtually nothing social about so-called Social Media anymore, but it has now transitioned to teaching people terrible habits.  Social Media encourages people to mask what they truly believe in order to present what they think others want to hear.  It is the worst possible form of political correctness, the form where we never reveal what we really think for fear of losing ground in some completely imaginary popularity poll.

We don’t agree” can be taken one of two ways.  It can be the end of a conversation, in which case nothing new is learnt and therefore both parties lose.  Or it can be the beginning of a new conversation, in which case both parties learn another point of view, and therefore both parties gain. In a conversation, “We don’t agree” need not be about seeking consensus at all, it can simply be about conversation itself.  However when we are speaking at an audience, as we invariably are in social media, we aren’t having a conversation.  What we’re doing is standing on a pulpit, while hoping our audience will think us praiseworthy. What we’re doing is talking, while hoping everyone else will listen and not talk themselves.  What we’re doing is feigning sincerity in order to sell our viewpoint, or our product.  What we’re doing is presenting ourselves as a “brand”, not as a person.  What we’re doing in Social Media aren’t very social behaviors at all, are they?

It is said true leaders lead from the front, they don’t push from behind.  And I say that for conversation to be conversation, it must be with one another.  We don’t necessarily have to see the person we’re conversing with, but we do need to be talking to them, not talking at them.  So-called Social Media is more about a marketable audience than it is about social friendship.

Social Media also teaches us to present a false face not only when we speak, but also when we pretend to listen. It teaches us it is good to be surrounded by friends or “followers”. It teaches us to not only anticipate, but also to expect reward for the most inane comments we make.  It teaches us to interpret “likes” as “listens”.  And possibly worst of all, Social Media teaches us to feign listening by “liking”.

Social Media teaches us we are perpetually surrounded by an avid audience who applaud our every word…

When was the last time you stood in a circle of your closest friends and they clapped whenever you spoke?  When was the last time you stood in a circle of friends?  Indeed, when was the last time you stood with a real friend?  Do you even recall what standing with a friend means?  It doesn’t mean “liking” everything they say, it means being there for them, it means telling them to stop when they open their mouth to change their feet in public, it means laughing at their terrible jokes in private, it means delighting in the outrageous together, it means saying shocking things secure in the knowledge nobody else will ever hear.  Now contrast those behaviors with standing with your Social Media friends.

Social Media is about counting your character’s worth by numbering your “followers”.  How many real friends do you actually have? It might shock you to learn the average person in the USA today has just two, yes, count them TWO, real friends. [1] It should shock you to realize that number is down from three just twenty-five years ago.  Thanks, Social Media, for causing a thirty percent reduction in real friendship, while giving us an exponential explosion in virtual  acquaintanceship.  Not!

How many of your supposed social media friends know anything about who you really are?  How many of them do you think actually care?  Here is a clue. Maybe the same number as you have real friends.  Maybe, but more likely a couple less…

Social is precisely what “social media” is not.

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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