Don’t Kill the Messenger: Social Media Is Not Bad, But People Can Be

I would like it if people would stop judging and categorizing certain types of media as bad. In my humble opinion the medium is neutral. It is the conveyance of the message. And like any tool available to human kind, it can be used for amazing good and terrible evil.
I was inspired to write my opinion, argument, if you will, because I got moved to action by another bashing of social media. The claim is that if you use social media, you will become depressed. I don’t believe this is necessarily true. And I think the claim misses the point. It is how you use and interpret the messages received and sent through social media that may reinforce or stimulate depression. It is not the neutral conveyance. We give things and thoughts the meaning. And whether it is good or bad, we judge.
I have to admit that part of my inspiration for expressing this opinion is to defend my ego. I love watching TV and sharing ideas, pictures, jokes and messages on social media. I do these things quite often. But because I prefer to receive my messages and communicate with other human beings through TV and social media, it does not make me “less than” people who prefer receiving messages through reading books or talking to each other on the telephone. Why do people feel the need to blame or glorify the conveyance? Or make one more righteous than another? I think the reason is probably ego and a lack of the assignment of personal responsibility.
I can do amazing things on social media. One thing that comes to mind is that I can continue a friendship with one of my classmates from elementary school. My friend, Stephen, and I went to elementary school in Kansas City, Missouri. And since that moment, a long, long time ago, we have both moved off to different cities. Stephen now lives somewhere in Oregon, and I live on the other side of Missouri in the greater Saint Louis metropolitan area. And if it were not for Facebook, I don’t believe we would communicate at all. But because Facebook exists, we were able to, first, find each other, and second, easily share ideas, our experiences, images of love ones and beautiful places. I am grateful that Facebook exists because without it, my friendship with my former childhood classmate would not exist. But it is Stephen and I that have made this a good experience, not necessarily the medium. If we were different people and shared different messages, this relationship could have become a negative experience. I believe that whether the experience is good or bad is up to us. And the strength and quality of the relationship is also up to us. I also cringe when people say, “but those people online aren’t really your friends.” Just because I communicate with Stephen on Facebook rather than calling him on the phone or talking to him in person does not change the quality of our friendship – it just simply makes it possible.
Sometimes people say terrible and awful things. And yet, there has been no campaign to urge people to stop talking. We have the common sense to not blame talking itself. I think we should use the same common sense with all methods of communication.

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