I’m feeling very over social media these days. I entered the pool as a way to stay connected to my children and that much has worked. When distance, time or individual obligations keep us separated too long, social media helps me feel like I’m still engaged in their lives.
Social media is instantaneous gratification. I can see my grandchildren posed and poised in their first day of school outfits ready to climb into the big yellow bus, within minutes of the image being snapped with a smart phone. I can see the urban artistry of the streets of Chicago posted by a daughter with a discerning eye who is living there, and I can vacation vicariously though photos of Paris shared by a friend visiting the City of Light.
But every day I grow more weary of the noise level coming from my feeds on numerous platforms.
I know, it’s within my control. I have culled my circle of friends, the followed and the followers, secured my privacy settings, even reported abusive and inappropriate posts and tweets. I’ve used the filters to somewhat curate what is fed to me where that applies—but I’m not exactly interested in living in an echo chamber either.
I would like to suspend my personal timeline on Facebook for a while, let it lie dormant, give it a rest, but I can’t do that without also suspending my author’s page. My community there is different, because I was more savvy by the time I created it. And while a hiatus from social media is doable it’s not desirable. Virtually every paid piece I’ve published online is the result of networking in professional writing groups across my social media accounts. The benefits of participating in these communities are still valuable to me.
I’ve created a monster with my social media profiles and presence, opened Pandora’s box—I take full responsibility for it. I can only say in my defense that I was playing by a different set of rules governing civil discourse, those being the adherence to truth and verifiable fact. I wasn’t paying attention when those rules were thrown out.
I’m not the only one who made the mistake, and not the first writer to become too reliant on a medium at which we excel.
The monster has grown exponentially, feeding off the energy of the billions of (mostly) self-serving thoughts unleashed day in and day out. It has become the living, breathing Super Id among us, something Freud never conceived of.
Everybody is talking, but nobody is listening.
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
~ Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence
We now have proof that the social media construct provided the perfect opportunity for our adversaries to distort the election process in the United States, but that is only a symptom of the deeper infection—simply, social media doing what it does best by giving a widespread and immediate platform to the constant chatter of our monkey minds.
I have no doubt that in the annals of history, if we survive long enough to look back on social media’s influence on our ultimate fate, it will be a large part of the story.
And I fear, too, that it may not—that the messenger may obfuscated the truth of itself. In the age of information, we are miserably failing at communication.
They would not listen
Perhaps they never will.
~ Don McClean, Starry, Starry Night
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