America’s turbulent political environment has led to friends parting company, family squabbles, and even divorce. While people will always be emotionally driven where politics is concerned, how much of the disruption is further charged by social media? I’d say, a great deal of it.
According to www.Statista.com, there are nearly 2 billion (that’s with a “b”) Facebook users worldwide. As much as it would be great to refer to Facebook, Instagram and so on as just another set of tech fads, they have instead become a mainstay in the decision making and opinion generating process of people from all walks of life.
You’ve probably seen news stories and read articles on this concept for several years, but here is my take on it for you. First, social media may not be a fad, but I do think it will evolve over the next several years, into what is still yet to be determined.
Social media began as a simple way for people to stay in touch but has turned into a platform where wacko politicians and blowhard braggart can spread their nonsense to the masses. But in order for any of that to change it must start with the everyday user being more mindful of the content being posted, liked, and shared. And it can all begin with you.
It’s time people started to finally develop a social media consciousness. If each user, like you and I, were more responsible about what he or she posted and shared, the content of social media would improve dramatically. Think for a moment about what you share on Facebook or Twitter. Family pictures? Vacation videos? Could be just about anything, but consider what those items mean to the people who follow you.
I have recently steered away from politically charged posts, mostly because they serve no useful purpose to my followers. Of late I tend mainly to share stories and photos of my fitness progress, caregiving situations I experience with my father, and interesting news and information that I think those who follow me will enjoy.
Just like everyone else, I’ve been duped by a fake news story or unqualified post a couple of times. Since that has happened, however, I’ve developed a method for sharing that seems to work well. But you must maintain some diligence and social media discipline to make it work.
Start by googling the post you want to share, before hitting that button. Is the information qualified anywhere else? If it’s a news story, look for a posting by a major news outlet such as CBS News, NPR, or the like. This will help you to ensure its validity.
If you are writing the post yourself, think about the purpose behind it. Unfortunately, we’re all guilty of using social media to vent a bit too much, overloading our feeds with a great deal more negativity than is necessary.
When the majority of what a user post is negative, goes against my personal values or tries to sell me on some network marketing scam I nearly always unfollow or block them. Likewise, if you don’t like the information I post, unfollow me.
One thing about social media I can never seem to wrap my head around is the idea of following people who are so different from you that everything they post makes you feel the need to engage in a public argument. If it bothers you that much, just don’t follow them. How hard is that?
In the end, most of what we see on social media is generated by its users. Granted, there’s a lot of paid material that appears in your news feed, but if you take the time you can block a lot of that noise.
And time is really the keyword here. Social media is very much a reactionary platform dependent upon people clicking without reading or knowing the full story. For the content to become less incendiary and more useful to everyone.
We’re not always going to get it right and there will be times when you just must speak your mind. But try to be thoughtful of your tone and your followers and maintain a social media consciousness.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at www.gerydeer.com