IS SOCIAL MEDIA THE NEW REALITY? (PART I)
I can remember a couple of years ago, when many folks swore up and down that social media was not for them. They said things like, “I’m not trying to tell my business to the world.” Or, they would state, “Social media is the devil and I’m afraid of it.” But the most popular statement was, “Working people really don’t have time for stuff like that.” Talk about things that make you say, “hmmm.” Fast forward to the present day, and many of those folks who gave viable reasons for not establishing an account are actually now on social media. Not only are they on social media, they are knee deep in just about every app available. Their smartphone never leaves their eyesight and if they have a moment to spare, they are all on it.
Now, since the previous “doubters” have all acquired social media accounts, they just add to the percentage of folks out there who look at the electronic mayhem as real life. Please don’t get me wrong, because there are people who actually post testimonial status updates, photos, etc. They are directly telling you or illustrating something that actually happened. There are others who post play by play of their day…whether it’s lively or boring. However many social media users, including myself, like to post general truths in the form of commentary. These truths may or may not reflect “our life;” but they could be sentiments tied to someone else’s.
The problem is, if you do not give a disclaimer in that particular status update, then you will leave the door wide open for assumption. We all know that there are general assumptions, and there are “social media” assumptions. Social media assumptions can grow legs and go viral. Thus people don’t have to work too hard to acquire the assumption. All they have to do is click a link that someone shared and bam! It’s on and crackin’. Once something goes viral, even if it’s been proven a lie, it’s out there in electronic oblivion forever. The issue can be cleared up in the near term by submitting counter posts and messages; however it can be reintroduced years later to someone who just stumbled upon it. Just like the old Facebook pic from 2011. You thought it ran its course. Nope! For instance, someone scouring through your pics can like a particular one, thus it begins trending again. Not that this direct analogy is a big deal. But the first thing you say when you see the indicator is, “Dang, why are they liking that old pic?”
Just think if you say something like, “People just need to be honest and stop BSing.” There’s somebody within your friends list who is guaranteed to say, “Who pissed you off?” Then you may get an inbox message after the comments begin rolling in, to the tune of, “Hey, just wanted to let you know I’m praying for you.” All the while, you’re like, “Huh?” Even if you routinely post a disclaimer, not everyone is going to see it. You could be in the grocery store and one of your followers may be in there shopping. After you exchange hellos, they could say something like, “You know, I don’t blame you for being angry. Shoot I get angry too.” Once again, you’re like, “Huh?” Thing is, people have a hard time discerning a directly truthful post from a person being genuinely angry when posting it. That’s the problem with electronic communications, including texts and email messages. Unless certain punctuation, capitalization, or emojis are used, one really cannot tell what the tone is. Nonetheless, the easiest thing to do is ASSUME. This is why so many people do it.
In conclusion, one has to understand that social media has changed the way we think and live. It actually gives fiction a factual face. Meaning that an untruth can get shared and kicked around so much, that it just “seems” like the truth. Unfortunately, we are living in an era in which truth is not truth anymore. The attitude is, “It’s the truth if I ‘feel’ it’s the truth.” With that said, we are ALL responsible for what we say, post, and share on social media. There is no end all/cure all method; but it doesn’t hurt to think twice or give constant disclaimers when posting. Content on social media is a serious thing. People have unfortunately lost lives, jobs, and families over what they may have been tied to on social media. Welcome to the new reality.
– Poet/Author Marc Lacy