Often on Friday nights my family congregates at my sister and her husband’s house for a weekly catch up. These evenings are full of amazing food (my Dad’s partner cooks us an Indian banquet most weeks), wonderful stories from the week, and often some robust conversation about life or what is happening in the world.
We are all very different in my family, so of course that makes for some interesting conversation! Over the last year, Dad and I seem to keep returning to the social media debate.
Is it good?
Is it bad?
For anyone who knows me and how I interact with social media, I am in the “it’s good” camp. Pa, on the other hand sees nothing but evil, corruption and the downfall of the world because of it.
We have gone back and forth so many times as we try to convince the other that we are right – a pointless and futile endeavour it turns out!!
Social media is a living entity and the reality is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. My approach is to ask: how can I use it in a way that makes my life richer and more fulfilled?
In her book Braving the Wilderness, Brene Brown says “I have come to the conclusion that the way you engage with social media is like fire – you can use it to keep yourself warm and nourished, or you can burn down the barn. It all depends on your intentions, expectations and reality-checking skills”.
This, I think, is the perfect analogy of social media: it is like fire.
Over the years I have seen people torch the barn in a flamboyant, public and very painful way. Break ups that are aired publicly, personal letters that have been posted for public consumption, name calling, verbal bitch-slapping and outright bullying have crossed my various platforms of social media. There have been times where I have been so appalled that I have had to turn my device off and walk away.
That being said, just last week I was on Facebook when the photo of the Saudi Arabian police officer handing a woman driver a rose (to commemorate the first day that women have been allowed to drive in their country) I cried. These were tears of joy and happiness at the world changing and evolving to be more inclusive.
And then there was watching my very dear friend, Claire Eardley, bring huge awareness to male suicide through The Kai Eardley Fund using social media as a platform to spread her message. The momentum and spread has been phenomenal! Something that would never have been achieved without this vehicle.
About three years ago, a post came across my Facebook feed that really resonated – it said something like “If you aren’t learning something new every day on Facebook, then you are following the wrong people”. Nice! And true! Choose carefully, folks.
So my question is: how are you using the fire? Is it warming your soul and giving you faith in the world? Or are you using it to torch your barn through comparison, jealousy and small mindedness?
Are you learning something each day – about a person in your life, or an event or thing?
Do you feel good seeing the posts that cross your newsfeed or does it leave you feeling less than?
Like you would choose who you hang out with on the weekend, social media is the same. I am always very thoughtful in how I spend my time and who or what I give my attention to. Life is one big energetic transaction, after all. Honour yourself.
As I said to Pa when we last went head to head on this topic, “Social media ain’t going anywhere, regardless of what you think!” Many people have challenged new technologies and been way off the mark. For example, Thomas Watson(President of IBM) said in 1948: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”. In 1977 Ken Olsen – founder of The Digital Equipment Corporation – said “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.
Believe it or not, my combined family owns 15+ computers and I am currently sitting in bed with my laptop writing this blog.
Social media – friend or foe?