We must hit the reset button.
The original intention for social media was to create a connection. I remember when it was fun. I appreciated celebrating, in real-time, life. It replaced the long phone call, most of us believed we didn’t have time for. We were “friends” with real friends and family. We looked forward to checking in. Most of the time, we engaged respectfully. We knew these These people.
It quickly reduced to how many “friends” you had. A frenzy of sending and requesting to anyone and everyone. It wasn’t about the connection anymore. It became dangerous. Who were all these strangers seeing photos of your children and knowing intimate details about your life? We had no personal connection with these people.
The comment section became ground zero for this dark turn. It went from a place to congratulate and send birthday greetings, to a battlefield. We lost friends and stopped talking to family members. We unfriended and blocked. We stalked, we fabricated and embellished. We created personas that needed to be protected. We created the perfect life that needed to be envied. With the addition of other platforms, we now had to manage all of this in multiple places. Time-consuming and exhausting. We were no longer looking to connect. We were looking to control the narrative for our followers.
For the first generation of users, we know what life was like before social media. When it was no longer fun, some deleted their account. The point is they had a frame of reference. They knew leaving would restore their own peace. For the younger generations, it’s all they know. With the absence of social cues it has become the wild west. They have this false sense of courage for speaking their mind.
Now, there are short videos letting you know, “they don’t care what you think of them”. This simply isn’t true. As humans, we don’t have the luxury of choosing which emotions we feel or how they’re triggered. Alternatively, we can choose how we process them, but this awareness comes later in life. Their desire to create the illusion of being bulletproof confirms the negative impact it’s having. Do they have a soft place to land when it all fees too overwhelming? Someone to remind them of how special they are, just as they are. Someone who does care? These developing minds are impacted and formed by this machine that is still evolving and struggling with how to protect its users. It’s not all bad, but we need do better.
Social media is not going anywhere. However, is the way it’s used a train that has already left the station? Maybe, but if that’s the position we take, we are not leading by example. We have to start somewhere. If the first generation of users and, the recently more mature generation of users make it a point to carefully choose their content, we will create balance that can be built upon. For this reason, i’ve chosen to bring my work to these platforms. I see others doing the same and i’m encouraged. As we post and share, we should ask ourselves two important questions, what is my intention? and, what is the potential impact? It’s a starting point.