Social Media seems to be the place that everyone enjoyed at the beginning and slowly or quickly started to discover is not at all that fun it's not easy to share our opinions freely without being judged and feel vulnerable. And before we know it, the innocent sharing becomes vicious, nasty and hurtful it divides us instead of uniting us.
3 THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA HAS SHOWN ME:
(1) WE ALL HAVE OPINIONS. It is a fact that we as human beings have that ability to think; thus we do have tons of opinions that we love to share as if they are facts and truths. In this society of high technology with the easy access to search engines like Google, where we all can check if a social media post is an opinion or it is facts it is amazing to see how we pass along or share information without checking the facts which bring me to my 2nd point.
(2) WE BELIEVE OUR OPINIONS ARE THE RIGHT ONE. We get so invested in the narrative that we create to formulate our opinions that is hard to see our opinions objectively. Our opinions become absolute must be the right one! We desire a world where there is a diversity of choices yet in making our opinion an absolute right one or absolute truth we close ourselves to see and evaluate the diverse possibilities in front of us.
(3) WE HAVE YET TO LEARN HOW TRULY RESPECT EACH OTHER'S OPINION. I grew up believing that in a democratic society where everyone's voice is respected is the best place to live. I still think so, but when I see the vicious attacks we do to each other just because there is a difference of opinion it makes me understand that as a society we are not genuinely walking our talk... In today's society, the middle ground feels like a middle child in a family of 3 siblings, where the oldest and youngest of the siblings pull to their corners leaving the middle child with no voice.
I reluctantly entered into the arena of Social Media when as a Solopreneur of my company I was encouraged to see the platform as a way to let clients and potential clients know about my business and as a way to keep in touch with my clients. When I decided to get involved in the personal side of Social Media like Facebook, I recognized the medium has a double edge sword. In one hand I was able to stay in touch with so many friends and family members, that generally because of distance and time constraints, we don't hear from each other for months or years and in the others hand, we can be very destructive when sharing our thoughts and opinions.
I started to observe how this platform of communication that started being benign was getting my emotional and well-beingness engaged and stressing me more than the normal stresses of my life... I began to observe how just reading someone's post or the posts being shared (with no facts behind it) would stir my anger, and my inherent desire to respond and stop the misinformation from being shared. I would start typing my response, and through the typing, my inner voice would whisper "Mercy, why are you responding? Don't you have your own opinion and don't you like to be able to post whatever you desire without being criticized or being told you are wrong?" I have to say that inner voice stopped me many times and made me see the part of me that I had not seen before... that powerful instinct we all have as humans... the ability to create stories which makes us judge others and not respecting each other's freedom to express each other's opinions freely.
Social Media has helped me see how easy and subtle it is to move from living in a democratic society where all the voices are respected and expressed freely into a society that everyone has to conform to the voices that shouts the loudest.
WOW!! I realized that to maintain a society that respects the freedom of speech is not easy, that it takes vigilant awareness of making sure we don't fall prey to the forces of separation. The forces that want to destroy the concept of a society where free speech is respected and honored. My parents risked their lives and mine so that I could grow up knowing what it is to live in a democratic society and this is what it has helped me navigate through the waters of being part of social media. I still love to keep in touch with family and friends, and so I decided to keep my social media accounts, to share freely with others and use it as an excellent practical exercise that helps me respect every individual's right to have their opinions. I am genuinely immensely thankful to live in a democratic society in which we all have the freedom to express our speech. I have to confess some days are not easy... BUT I keep learning the art of respecting each other opinions!