I’ve been seeing a lot of hatred towards social media today, ironically on social media. Even in my own life, some of my family members are dead set against social media to the point of argument. And I see these two arguments all the time:
1. Social Media Will Cause Relational Incompetence
When the newspaper first came out in mass production, people were suspicious of its effect on society, believing that no one would talk to each other anymore and instead keep their heads in the papers as they rode the trains to work. When the television first populated homes and businesses, people were sure that there was no future for teachers as televisions would replace the education system. When mobile phones were invented, people were worried that they would no longer have a reason to visit each other as they were always accessible through the wires. And now with social media, the argument has changed to relational incompetence; that people will grow up without the ability to relate with one another as they predominantly do it through an altered ego online.
While there is some validity to the argument, it’s important to see that this negativity towards social media is only a part of the cycle of history. There will always be those who are reluctant to change with modern technologies, those who misuse them and those who thrive with them. But I tend to see the positive side of social media, that it allows us to connect across the world, be part of movements on a global scale and share our message much quicker and much more specific than ever before. It is not so much a relational incompetence as much as it is a relational re-calibration.
2. Social Media Is Destructive
I have not been blind to the destructive acts people have done through social media. We mustn’t forget the lives that have been taken due to cyber-bullying and the self-worth that has been crushed through the medium of social media. While people can do wonderful things on a global scale through social media, they can also do incredible harm and I believe that this should be taken very seriously. We must educate our children on the use of social media, its potential and etiquette. But I believe we must also remember that social media is at its core, a platform. It did not cause hurt or mistrust. It was the bully behind it that did. With or without social media, the bully will still be a bully; she will only find a different medium to cause her destruction.
Social Media is not the devil, it is the people who use it that can be. And it is a bit of a misuse of resources to attack the platform rather than the person who chooses to do evil through it.
Quite frankly, I don’t understand why we need a specified day to celebrate social media, but then again it seems there is some sort of national day to celebrate everything under the sun. So, I don’t know what you’re up to this fine Friday on the eve of Canada Day, but I hope you use it to think again about how you use social media and what you believe about its value and purpose.