One thing we love about the internet is that it gives people an avenue to voice their thoughts.
That is what I do on this blog. But then, it seems that blog readership is dwindling (not just here, but overall). We might want a quick and dirty glimpse of other people’s opinions-- a few characters on Twitter or a short blurb on Facebook, maybe, but if we have to actually follow a link or click on “read more,” forget about it. Someone else is probably saying the same thing in fewer words elsewhere on the internet.
Lately I’ve seen that video posted over and over, the one about looking up from your screens and engaging with people face to face. Some people love the video, some people hate it, and everyone is ready to shout their opinion about social media on social media as loud as they can because they have the most correct viewpoint of all the people.
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t really care about the video. I watched it, thought it was interesting, and forgot about it until my Facebook feed made darn sure I couldn’t forget.
So what the heck? Everyone else has an opinion, so I guess I’ll jump into the fray too. My semester is over, my kids are in school, I have nothing else pressing to do today, and I’m feeling just a hair sarcastic and aggressive, so why not opine a little? You know, on this old-fashioned weblog that only a handful of people will read because I say too many words…
I thought the video made an interesting point worth considering. Certainly I have been guilty of ignoring important face-to-face interactions because I'm too busy reading Facebook, and I want to stop doing that.
Does that mean I think all social media is evil and should be done away with because it stops people from interacting face-to-face? Um, no, and I honestly think the number of people who actually believe that is very, very small-- although approximately one-half of The Internet would have me believe that anyone who found value in the video’s message believes just that. The other half, of course, would have me believe that anyone who ever glances at a screen instead of doing something else is a mindless, selfish drone.
Of course social media isn’t inherently a bad thing. Of course it isn’t stopping people from interacting face-to-face. Of course it can foster connections and relationships. Of course people have been focusing their attention on other things for a long time-- be it books, newspapers, knitting, art, talking on the telephone, writing, and so on. Because of course our lives are not made up solely of eating, sleeping, and socializing face-to-face 24/7. People like to pursue other interests and hobbies. People like to connect in other ways, via phone or email or texting or social media. Big deal. Is anyone actually arguing that all social media should be done away with here and now?
I don’t know. Probably someone out there is arguing just that, but I’m not going to do a lot of research here because this is just a blog where I’m hastily typing out my opinion of utter importance so that everyone can read it and bow to my authority. Or no one. That's cool too.
Aaaanyway. How about this? How about if we all just live our lives the way we see fit? If we want to read a book on a Kindle/iPad/smartphone, cool. If we want to post some pictures on Instagram, cool. If we want to post witty one-liners or overshared memes on social media, cool. If we want to smash all our screens into smithereens and spend our day prancing through fields of flowers and intensely staring into people’s eyes as we interact face-to-face because EVERY LAST MOMENT COUNTS, cool. If we want to share each and every strongly held opinion for everyone to read… or even a not-so-strongly held opinion, just to stir the pot and see if anyone actually reads what we say, cool.
Let’s just make sure that we very vocally point out that other people's opinions and actions are wrong, okay? Because the thing we love about the internet is that it gives people an avenue to voice their thoughts… and that’s fine as long as we agree with them, right?