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.