It seems that lately the new “in” thing is to denounce social media. It’s argued by some that it’s a distraction from real life (which, for some, is undoubtedly its attraction). Others go further and say that so-called “social” media is de-socializing people from actually interacting with each other, preferring instead to briefly touch base without actually having any meaningful human interaction. Still others go so far as to decry it as evil.
For some time now, I’ve wanted to defend social media - not to the extreme that I think it’s the greatest thing man has ever come up with; but that it’s not evil, either. It does serve a purpose and is good for some people. But I have been unable to adequately articulate my thoughts.
Sometimes it’s the strangest things that spur thought. I recently took one of those silly tests on Facebook (thereby proving the distracting nature of it). This one was “Which mental disorder do you sort of have?” Naturally, these things are not the least bit scientific and are meant mostly for entertainment. They are multiple choice and extremely general. Some of the questions seem to be irrelevant, while others just seem to not have any options that accurately express one’s best answer. This being the case, there were a few questions which I could have chosen one or another answer, so I took the quiz twice using the different answers.
The first result showed that I had Social Anxiety, and the second said Misanthropy. As unlikely as it sounds, these results are actually not far from being correct. Probably, some people I know would say that I’m a social person, but I do sometimes have social anxiety. As regards misanthropy . . . I sort of do hate people. Let me clarify: I love persons, but I hate people. I can deal one on one with people, or be part of a small group of people I know, but I’m very uncomfortable around crowds, especially if I don’t know anybody. I don’t like how people behave en masse. It frustrates me and, in extreme cases, it can frighten me.
But I love the persons I know and interact with. I just don’t have a need to have constant interaction or contact. Even so, I feel that I make a pretty strong effort to not fall out of touch with people (persons). I will frequently reach out proactively with a text message or Facebook message if I haven’t heard from someone in a while.
This is one of the things that social media is good for. It keeps us, who many people think are anti-social (or at least unsocial), in contact with those who are important to us, and does so in a way that we feel safe and not overwhelmed.
Another valuable use for social media comes into play with regard to family who are distant from one another. They get to share pictures instantly and thereby feel more connected, even though they might be hundreds or thousands of miles away. I was talking to a lady just today that remarked that she was the only person who had not seen her new grandchild and was thankful for Facebook that she could at least see pictures.
So, before you relegate social media to the status of an evil distraction, think about the people whose lives it actually enhances.