by Gray Graham
Talking to people via an electronic device is nothing new. People have used electronic devices for communication for almost 200 years. The devices have changed over that time but people are still people. I know this will come as a shock to young people who don’t seem to know that Baby Boomers and Gen X are not the same thing, but social media isn’t new.
What might be new however is the amount of anger, vitriol, disrespect, and hate that is shared on social media these days. Not liking people is nothing new but doing it in such a mean, disrespectful, and hateful probably is a little new. Being rude and mean was something that the majority of people didn’t used to do. Even the most hateful racist person used to manage some form of manners when engaging with others. Sadly that has gone away which means that the lines of meaningful communication are severed which means we can’t accomplish significant meaningful change in the world today. Even those who are supposed to be your allies and friends will insult and belittle you.
One of the things I bring up frequently is how social media isn’t very social. I would say social media today is anti-social. Most of the behavior you see on social media daily is nothing (I hope) you would see in a social setting in everyday life.. I don’t think people would be yelling and cursing people they don’t personally know at a dinner party, but then again with people today I could be wrong.
I can’t even be sure that people actually know what a person is anymore. Many people on social media make no distinction between trolls, bots, spam, and actually people. Thieves and impostors are nothing new in the world but it seems like a lot of people can’t tell the difference between a nefarious individual and a real person being themselves.
We no longer seem to be able to view others as simply human beings sharing their thoughts. Even I struggle with having a discussion with people online after all these decades. We live in a world now where very few people actually want to have a discussion with people with different views and opinions. I don’t think that the bots and trolls are the cause of this behavior. I think it has more to do with people just not caring what others think. It has no value to them. For most people the only thing that matters is what they think. No amount of facts, data, or personal testimony is going to sway their thinking. It used to be said that no one has ever changed their mind because of a discussion on the internet. This may be true, but some of us keep trying.
The reason people might not be very social anymore could be because life is kind of hard for a lot of people at the moment and they are not doing well at all. We have lost basic human rights. We feel betrayed by people we used to look up to and trust. We lost loved ones due to a worldwide pandemic and we saw other people not care and were willing to let us die too. We are told of a world where atrocity after atrocity is commented against people.
On top of all of that many people are struggling to find a place to live and being able to feed their families. That’s a lot for the average person to deal with for sure on top of whatever personal issues you are dealing with in your life. You just never know what struggles and trials a person is dealing with in their lives.
I don’t think the average person even knows what is good anymore. I am sure your idea of good and my idea of good are different. I regularly see people complaining about people that appear to be nice and kind. It’s not that they think the person is pretending to be nice, no people dislike them because they are nice. You see people today hold views that would seem to conflict with each other yet they hold on to them because it makes sense to them. Good is whatever they say it is in that moment.
It would seem that today’s social media is teaching people to be mean and selfish. Instead of thinking of humanity and society as a whole we are being taught to only think about their wants. Everything else is insignificant. Even among allies they put their desires above others.
In a world where everyone is for themselves how do you still try to be a good person. I mean in the world today everyone thinks they are a good person no matter their actions. No matter who they hurt a person will feel completely justified in their actions. We are at the point where many people can’t even form romantic relationships and marriages because that is still a contest of wants and not an exchange of love and caring.
No matter how bleak things are in the world there is always a ray of hope in the human heart. In the darkest times there will always be a person that will believe something better is possible. And they will touch the hearts of others and they will start to believe too. That’s what we need to be on social media for others.
We have to be the goodness we want to see in others. We have to rise above the strife and discord. We don’t have to insult back when we have been insulted. We don’t have to attack when we have been attacked. We can just smile and keep being positive and loving but we should keep the door open for those that may have a change of heart. Because there will also be people that want to grow and get better and we have to keep the lights of goodness burning to welcome them when they decide to come home.
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