I adjusted my time using social media when summer arrived and even more when the weather finally felt like summer. But as August creeped up, I have been dipping back into the social media sharing and news more. With recent events and news in our communities and our world, I do appreciate that I can sign into Twitter and catch more perspectives on events and issues. But there has been a lot to take in lately, if one chooses to take it in through these spaces. So I am plopping down some thoughts in reflection… many of which I am sure have been said before by others.
I have no doubt that social media has impacted how we choose to communicate, if not what we communicate and with whom. I think it has also impacted how we process and react to events and news – positive and negative. It is not hard to pick up on the dissatisfaction that occurs when some don’t like what others are posting (or not posting) into the timelines on Twitter. There is often debate about how Twitter should (or should not) be used, and there seems to be no shortage of articles suggesting ways to use social media better to increase one’s influence, etc.
But really, I don’t think anyone can tell another how they must use Twitter or other social media platforms. Each platform does have its own “psychology” and communication norms which can impact how users share and behave, but I think it is important to remember that our experiences and perceptions of social media can be impacted by those we follow/friend and what we attend to. We can choose or adjust our experiences and time in these spaces. I can understand that can be easier said than done. I get that these online connections can build and lead to close relationships. I can understand that there may be pressure in maintaining a network to support our work and purpose. These pressures exist for adults and youth, I believe. But in the end, we still have many choices in this experience and in these spaces. We may have to accept that we can’t tell someone how to use or what to share on social media any more than we can tell someone how to live their life. It has been reassuring to see some response in this regard from some social media platforms and representatives in some situations.
However, I find it most unfortunate that there are individuals who may decide that the best choice is to stop using social media completely. I can respect that — there are some horrendous stories. Choice and adjustment of one’s network and sharing may not be enough to feel safe and comfortable or worthwhile for some. I hope such situations lessen ahead, but I am not sure how confident I am that they will. It can seem so complicated at times.
Some other related reading that helped me think about voice and choice:
Web Trolls Winning as Incivility Increases (NY Times article)
Important Voices (blog post by Mark Carbone)