Social media has changed the world. Literally changed the way we act, interact, share and engage with the entire planet. That is pretty amazing and we, as the human race, were ill equipped for this endeavor. Our global society, in fact, is still struggling with the management of such a deluge of information, interaction, engagement and overall stimulation. This part of our world is still evolving and so are we, as the users and engagers and continued creators of this new part of our lives.
There is a saying, “May your life be as good as it looks in Facebook”, as a way to indicate that our social media outlets present only those parts of our lives and experiences that we choose. We can create whatever reality we want through the images, hashtags or comments we choose to share. One can be called, or call them self, an Internet sensation or YouTube star and have millions of Instagram followers or Facebook friends or hits to one’s web site. In my opinion, millions of likes does not mean you are a better person.
I come from a generation born without the Internet, cell phones, cable or satellite TV. We could call the operator for the time and weather, we had UHF on our television, party lines and the rotary phone. We got dairy products, newspapers, offers for magazines and encyclopedias delivered right to our doors. We went outside to play and were not welcome back into the house until mealtime or dark. You know, when the streetlights came on. We rode our bikes, played in the dirt with sticks and rocks, captured grasshoppers in mayonnaise jars, roller skated and played kickball in the street. We walked to school, left backdoors unlocked, did chores and researched school projects at the library. We got new clothes once per year when school started and used old cigar boxes for our pencils.
These days kids do not ever have to leave their house to get what they need. They spend more time in front of a screen than outside. They are driven everywhere and rarely left alone. They have access to any sort of information on any sort of thing and can bully one another from the comfort of their living room. These kids are detached, ill equipped and ill prepared to problem solve, filter out the noise or have the coping skills to deal with the myriad of problems and deluge of information that constantly knocks on their door.
This brings me full circle to the impact, and the deceit, of social media. The experiences, articles, photos and commentary belies the life that is lived. Sure, there are great photos of the new car or vacation or diamond ring. Superfluous aspects in a world in need of meaning. These offerings will not show the bickering that happened a few moments before that photo was snapped, the unmanageable debt of the person featured, or the unstable mental health from a face of all smiles. The photos do not show the nature that was destroyed for “that one shot” or the rules that were broken to go where one is not supposed to go. There is no hint of anything out of place, off kilter. We are presented with the sexy, pretty, desirable. The seemingly rich and needlessly famous. The images perpetuate a false reality that generally glosses over the messy and dirty and painful parts of life. We keep the hard parts off social media so that we can pretend they do not exist.
I disagree with all of this. I know, some folks call me a pessimist, negative, glass half empty sort of person. I disagree with that, too. I am a realist, pragmatist, and someone who takes the good with the bad, the messy with the tidy, the dirty parts of life as well as the glorious beauty. To think otherwise is to live with your head buried in the sand. I disregard anyone or anything that has found “fame” or notoriety due to some social media title or fame. I want to know who you are as a person, how are you making a positive contribution to our world, how are YOU working to move our society and our culture and our humanity forward.
I have a Facebook page and a website. I have put posts on my web site in which I talk about some of my struggles with this life I have chosen. My life is mostly great and suits me and is full of fun and adventure. My life can also suck, be expensive, get lonely and stressful. I work hard to offer a balance, the good with the bad, the challenges with the achievements, the joys with the stresses. I strive to paint a well-rounded and comprehensive picture of my choices so that others can learn, commiserate, and celebrate with me. It is not always rainbows and unicorns. Mostly, but not always.
Today I challenge us, myself included, to be more open about all aspects of the lives we present on social media. I challenge us to present our life how it really is, and not just how we filter it. Let us use the power of social media for good, yet strive for balance in the world of over stimulation and excessive and copious amounts of information.
I remind us all that we have the power to be present in all aspects of our lives. We are each in a position to positively contribute to our community, our society and our world. We can hide behind the computer, hide behind screen names and made up profiles, but we should not hide from our humanness. Life is messy and we are imperfect stewards of all that makes us people. I encourage us to present our lives as they are, as we live them, and in a true and comprehensive manner. I support all of us to share the good, the bad and the ugly. Use social media as a way to communicate and connect from the heart and do it with soul. I challenge us to keep it real.
See you in cyber space!