Social media – incredible, useful, brilliant and scary all at the same time. Twitter, Facebook, LinkdIn, Digg, Stumble Upon, various blog sites, forums and chat rooms…a million ways to connect with people all over the world.
At times I am awed by the power of social media sites. I have been able to connect with people I went to school with, thousands of miles away. I have been able to offer my support and advice from one Coast to another. I have been able to witness, at least through pictures, births, weddings, deaths, life threatening diseases and I have been able to send a quick note of love, prayer and support to at the touch of a button.
Through blogging, I have been able to work through some very personal issues. Vent and rant about things that roll around in my mind. I have been able to share parts of me that I didn’t think I could, say the things that I didn’t think I could say and get out the things that take up WAY too much of my brain space. Through my writing, my words and this blog, I have touched other people’s lives with my writing and even have “followers” (ps…YAY FOLLOWERS! Thank you!!!). Through accessing social media, I have been able to read about the struggles of other mothers trying to get through each and every day, I have been able to read a struggle with mental health, I have been both moved to tears and laughter through the skill of other writers.
These are awesome things. Powerful things. The bright side of social media.
But what about the dark side?
Websites like thedirty.com; facebook stalkers, craigslist killers…the stuff that no one really talks about but we all should be thinking about. Facebook added a function where you could “check in” to places that you are currently and immediately my back went up. My first thought was “why do my facebook friends need to EXACTLY where I am?” and my second thought was “if they know where I am, then they can figure out where I’m not”. I’m sure that every one of the people I have on my facebook site are good people. I have also locked down my profile so that you would have to be a pretty proficient hacker in order to access my information but a lot of people don’t do that. There whereabouts are out there for the WORLD to see. Me, you and Mr. Aklihovinaoa from Africa who would like to send you your $5,000,000,000 inheritance. By telling the world where you are, you are inherently telling them where you are NOT. Such as…at your house (welcome robbers)…or with your children (hello abductors)…or precisely where you’ll be leaving shortly (hello creep-o’s who stalk people).
The dirty.com is a ridiculous website that I am so grateful did not exist in my youth. That would have been serious trouble and my heart goes out to the younger generations who have to deal with excessive access to information. Who have to deal with bad decisions and moments in your life being posted online, for anyone to see – f.o.r.e.v.e.r. This also opens the door to a whole new avenue of bullying. “Cyber-bullying” is a relatively new phrase but one that needs to be talked about. Often. With our world becoming more and more mobile, our lives, our children and ourselves are more and more accessible and vulnerable. Every little thing you do, every little place you go, every public (and sometimes not-so-public) decision you ever make has the potential to be captured, posted and commented on. Think…”Wal-Martians”…people who make poor wardrobe choices and then go into Walmart get their picture taken and get posted to a website for the WHOLE world to look at and laugh at. I have been one of those people who look and laugh. To me, I am a cyber-bully. What business of is it of mine what someone else decides to wear to a store? Why do I even care? Do I feel so crappy about my own self that I need to look at someone else and laugh? Cause I think my momma taught me better than that.
The darkside of social media is that often times the human is taken out of what we’re looking at. Those girls/ boys on thedirty, the people on Walmartians, and sites such as that are all people. Perhaps they’re underpriviledged, perhaps they are mentally challenged, perhaps they just like what they’re wearing, whatever the reason…good on ’em.