Social Media…The Death of Us All?

While discussing the downfalls of social media with my big kids last night, Eldest commented that technology would be the destructive force that takes down mankind.

I think he’s right.  Orwell’s 1984 has never been more present than now.  And it’s not necessarily the government we need to fear.  It’s ourselves.

We put so much of ourselves into the vast world of technology that we no longer have any sort of privacy (says the blogger who connects nearly every writing post to real life).  It’s dang scary.

And while I occasionally get opinionated and loud about certain issues, my motto is: If I can’t say it to my mother, my mother-in-law or my pastor, I have no business saying it online, because inevitably, anyone from my kids to their teachers to the mayor to the president can feasibly read what I write or ogle every picture I ever post.

That’s fine.  President Obama doesn’t care that my dog eats socks and sleeps on her back in her kennel.  Or that I think kids get by with bullying because adults are too afraid to step in.  Or that our inability to address early literacy issues as a preventative measure literally condemns thousands of children to an adult life in poverty or prison.  That we spend far more money incarcerating adults who had potential but lacked the ability to read well, instead of helping them as at-risk kindergarteners learn to succeed is one of the greatest tragedies our country has ever created.  Economically, emotionally and socially.

The Pres doesn’t care about me and my thoughts.  But somebody does.  Actually, lots of somebodies potentially do.

They like every new account I create, every website I visit, every purchase I make, every hot button word I say, every picture I post.  They like it because it’s information.  And information, if used correctly, can cause damage.  It can destroy job security, rip apart marriages and financially cripple individuals who aren’t careful.  Heck, even those who are.

Every picture of that beer can in your underage hands can keep you from attaining that coveted scholarship.  Every snarky word you type into cyberspace can influence other’s opinions and decisions about you, including a judge’s should you get busted for spouting off about your illegal gun supply.

We are the guilty parties in Cyber Space 1984.  We want to be heard so much that we forget what not to say.  We rail against agents as we email query letter after query letter.  We snark off about certain authors and their less than stellar books only to later realize when our own books arrive on the shelves, authors are reviewers too.

We take pictures of naughty parts and pen less-than-pure prose as captions to our lovers, never believing our spouses may find them.  We threaten others every day with hate-filled words, never believing someone will use our prejudices to take us down.  We destroy our own integrity in a constant battle to be seen and heard by our friends, never really understanding that it’s not just our friends who hear us and see us.  It’s the entire cyber world.

And that world is a very big place.

I urge everyone, regardless of age, race, gender or profession to carefully consider the long-term impact of their cyber footprints before setting anything loose into the vast and unforgetting realm of social media.

Our words count.  They add up.  They create a picture of what we look like to the outside world.  And sometimes, that picture ain’t pretty.  Don’t hang yourself with your words.

My favorite saying of all time comes from William Backus.  “”The concept behind personal integrity is wholeness. When a person is the same without as within, when what others know about him is the same truth he knows about himself, he has integrity.”

So, if you believe yourself to be a kind and gentle soul, your words should reflect this.  If you’re crass and crude and selfish on the inside, then so be it.  Present this truth to the world.  Just remember, we alone are responsible for what we say and how we say it.  The sandbox/lunchroom/break room has just gotten bigger.

How do you feel about social media as a whole?  What responsibility do we have to ourselves to set clear rules of social media engagement?  And what might those rules look like?  What types of behaviors spell certain social media death?

Curious minds want to know.



5 responses to “Social Media…The Death of Us All?

  1. well said. i always have believed you should never write anything down you aren’t willing for everyone, EVERYONE to see. it is perhaps better not to say anything if it’s not nice…just like mother always said. social media offers up what i think of as a fake reality…fake because no one really lives the FB life they put forward; but reality because if it’s there, we somehow “believe” it….there’s the picture to prove it. then there’s the time sucker element….we spend so much time reading about what others are writing, or painting, or sewing or doing with their families, we don’t have time to write or paint or sew or spend time with our own families. as in all things, social media requires moderation. just my thoughts…

    • Now to teach our kids these wise words.

      This is exactly what I believe, only you wrote it much more eloquently than I could. Social media is defintely a fake reality. I love that line.

      Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. I hope others read it and learn…


  2. Oh boy. Good questions as usual.

    For me, my behaviour is pretty easy to reign in as I try to act online as I try to act in real life. I try to be nice, choose my words carefully, and not be offensive. Yet, I also have to show a little edge so I’m not that blah goody-goody that is soooo annoying!

    The tricky part about ‘rules’ is the fact that what might fly in certain circles sure wouldn’t in another. And if you take someone out of context, well, then things can get pretty yucky pretty fast!

    I think social media is growing faster than our knowledge (as a whole) and etiquette about it all when it comes to safety and reputation. Sort of like when cell phones first came out. It takes awhile for things to settle out.

    It is certainly a brave new world though, isn’t it?

    • Jean,

      This is perfect: “I think social media is growing faster than our knowledge (as a whole) and etiquette about it all when it comes to safety and reputation. Sort of like when cell phones first came out. It takes awhile for things to settle out.”

      And society is using these forms of media younger and younger. Scary new world might be more like it. And yet nobody seems to be immune to the seductive nature of saying/showing whatever is on their mind. When famous peeps take pictures of body parts and send them out into the vast ocean of cyber space, how can we expect our kids to know how to control their impulses?

      I know exactly what you mean in regards to certain circles. In that respect cyber life mimics real life. I’m much more outgoing on my blog and in AQC than I am in real life. But that’s because writing is what I’m passionate about and I can express myself to other like-minded peeps. In real life, I’d bore everyone silly in a heartbeat if I talked about the publishing biz.

      And yet, in real life, I have some great friends that I feel 100% comfortable around to just be me. These get to see my quirky, writerly, cyber me on a regular basis, while the rest of the world has to put up with reserved, mommy me.

      Funny how that works. Lucky you to get to be on my inside cyber circle!

      Hugs: )

  3. Pingback: Blog Treasures 5~5 | Gene Lempp ~ Writer

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