Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Concerns on the social media worldview

Social Media is a fantastic tool, a great way to connect with people from all over the globe.  I love that I can talk with people I served on the mission field of The Gambia with - or old school friends - or American friends who have headed home - or even just church friends during the week in a much more relaxed way.

But time and time again I am reminded that I have to make sure I don't view the social media world as equivalent to the real world.  There are many things that make the world of social media a dangerous place if you take all of your experience and information from it, without regarding what is going on in people's real life.

People say things on social media (both publically and privately) they would never say in person.  It's very easy to type out a harsh comment, or not consider the circumstances or intent of how their words will be received.  It's also very easy to misunderstand someone's social media post, because it's tough to gauge emotion, sarcasm, intention and intent from written words.

There certainly is a need for 'real world' communication to supplement and, ultimately, complete the conversation that may start on social media.

Also just as it's easy to amass a large following of people whom you hardly know... it's easy to disconnect from people you know, but find yourself in conflict with.

In times of conflict it is very easy to find the 'unfriend' button, or maybe just the 'unfollow' or in those moments of complete anger the 'block' button. But that doesn't stop the real world does it.  It's not so easy to disconnect when you are seeing the person in person.  However it does create an awkwardness... I know that I notice when people have 'unfriended' or blocked me on different social media platforms and it becomes a little strange when you go to interact in the real world knowing the person has purposely disconnected on social media: do they actually want to talk to me? should I resolve some conflict I am not really even aware of? are they still a friend here in the real world?

So as amazing a tool social media is - it has to be used carefully, and with a correct intent.  I have a few rules about what and when I post (I may share those in another post sometimes - **update** I have written that post... here), but I think everyone needs a reminded now and then that what happens on social media will affect your real world life, so you need to consider that in all things you do online!

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