Keeping the Social in Social Media

 

Generally this blog is about the psychology of being human, and in to provide some help in making changes to become the best humans we can be.  I enjoy sharing resources and experiences of people I know as well as my own. After all, we’re all on this road together. On a good day maybe readers can gain a bit of Positive Psychology or increase their EQ or Emotional Intelligence.

Sometimes I do comment on events in the news, or on cultural developments that gradually affect us all, sooner or later.  There isn’t any doubt that one of the most profound technical developments, next to the personal computer, is the proliferation of social media. Every aspect of our lives are being shaped by it whether it is keeping in touch with friends, families and co-workers; business and commercial or political influences.

There are lots of jokes about Tweeters telling their followers about the great triple latte they are drinking. And Facebook has provided a forum for sharing everything from the ridiculous to the sublime and everything in between. I have colleagues that are very skilled at developing business connections on Linked In. And of course the list goes on.

When I first joined the Facebook contingent, I intended it more as a business tool.  And I do have business connections on it and find helpful in keeping up with the publishing aspect of my business. But what is probably more rewarding and interesting to me are the friends and acquaintances that have formed a sort of “net” of community and commentary. I have reconnected with childhood friends and relatives that live at a distance, most still living in the part of the country where I grew up, and I love hearing from them.

I confess to also liking silly cat pictures and the occasional funny video of someone’s dog bringing in the mail or howling with the toddler. Pictures of new babies, friends’ kids and grandkids are precious and provide a way of keeping up with family developments. I seldom post pictures because I am technically challenged and am too lazy to figure it out. It’s a trick that my grown children haven’t taught me yet.

It’s interesting to me how varied the opinions and perspectives are. Sometimes those opinions get pretty heated, especially around election time.  And of course political and religious views continue to be posted, along with the suggestion that “friends” click on the “Like” button.

I am a defender of the right to free speech that is outlined in the Bill of Rights. So just as I think that a man has the right to wear his drawers drooping off his behind, but wish he wouldn’t, so it is that I think everyone has a right (unless it is harming someone) to post what they want.  But sometimes I really wish they wouldn’t.

This morning when I checked out Facebook and saw two consecutive posts made by a distant friend, I had that same reaction. The first one was one I have seen before from a page entitled something like “wanting to hit people on the side of the head.” It advocates making drug testing mandatory for welfare recipients; the reader could click “Like” if they agreed. The second post was a picture that was followed by a message to click “Like” if they followed Jesus.

Is it just me or is this at least ironic if not offensive? It promotes a stereotype of poor people that is a tad shocking if not ignorant of the facts.  Could we force the lawmakers who would draft and pass such a bill also be subjected to mandatory drug testing? Many of the drug addicts I have treated over the years were well educated, professionals, none of whom were on welfare. Addiction is a painful and awful affliction, and no class or group of people is exempt.

Then to follow that post with another one about following Jesus is really too much. Is there some newly discovered, mean-spirited and hateful addendum to the Gospels that I don’t know about? Was there a mis-translation of “God is Love?”  1 John 4:8, if you want to look it up. I don’t remember a reference to Jesus hitting anyone on the head.  Is the Son of Man suddenly a member of a political party, or promoting a particular agenda? I could have sworn that the message of love and forgiveness is available to every human, regardless of race, creed or financial circumstances.

Americans in particular seem fond on invoking the Almighty’s favor and applying it to our favorite causes or passions. In the process, we shape God in our image. We seem to think that whether we are waging war or a football game, He is on OUR side. This never made any sense to me, although I understand the temptation. My theology doesn’t include a god who prefers blondes over brunettes or jerseys that are blue instead of orange. I can’t believe that certain people are excluded because of their race, nationality or lifestyle or because they face East to pray instead of West. And I don’t believe that our bombs are blessed.

Of course this is my perspective, and I will respect your right to express yours as well.  As a friend of mine would say, it’s all grist for the mill. And it’s what keeps the conversation, as well as life, interesting. I am happy to read your comments.