In this post, I intend to take a look at some of the habits developed through social media and how they impact our safety. And just so you know going in, this is not another post on avoiding stalkers or identity thieves.
One of the problems I have had with the internet in general and social media specifically is the habit people seem to have of instant expert status. People will read something which aligns with their personal bias, and they start to pontificate on the subject. Expertise comes with study, training, and experience. And if you want to really understand any topic then study that topic. Before you share a news article, check the sources. It will also help if you learn to identify when the writer is directing your emotions. The differences between misled and lied, or killed and murdered are something you need to see instantly. If you really want to be an expert on a given subject, then put in the hours to study whatever that subject is, and do it right. The instant path will only lead to your embarrassment.
Another bit of rotten ice people seem to have no hesitation about running out on is the use of incindiary labeling. For example, when you call someone a racist you need to know ahead of time that that is a pretty freaking serious charge. For almost a decade the term racist has been used as an inescapable shut up. It was used anytime a dissenting opinion was offered. Oh, you don’t like pickles on your hamburger, but you like bacon on it, is that because you are racist? Racism has a very specific definition, memorize it before using the term, please. There has also been developed in our time a dangerous habit of shouting at one another rather than talking. Both sides of any topic want to win rather than do what is best and right, and in so doing they increase the likelihood of things going wrong. Both sides would do well to understand that what is best is not going to be the extreme view of either side.
I need to interject here an important life-lesson; there will always be people who think you are wrong and about half of the time, they will be correct in this assessment. Tattoo this on your forehead if you must, but however you have to do it – get it in your skull. You will not always be right. And if you don’t do your homework as advised above, you will be wrong more than right.
And lastly, I want to remind you that people formulate their opinions and then defend them without consulting reason. Anytime you share an unresearched “news” article or a witty meme, you are either alienating friends or solidifying your echo chamber. We like to tell ourselves that we are creating awareness or countering bias but we are doing nothing of the sort. Such behaviors are little more than self-soothing. The more likes we get from our like-minded friends, the more secure we feel in our opinion. But we would do well to remember that we are insulting almost as many friends as we are affirming.
But what was actually accomplished?
Nothing, if we are honest. Maybe we made ourselves feel better through the approval of our inner circle. But is that really an accomplishment? Getting the approval of people who already agreed with us? What about the friends we insulted? Should we consider them at all?
Your actions will speak louder than your social media overreactions. If you truly believe something – live it. Be the living example of what you want others to see. This is a better way to get your point across. You cannot change another person’s opinion of a topic, but you can change their opinion of people who look at things the way you do.
I hope this helps.