Social media is an amazing tool and way of communication. It’s opened a whole new world for millions of people, but it’s not without fault.
I’m thinking a lot about those flaws right now.
Let me backtrack.
It’s 1998 and I’m in a chat room after a day on the golf course. Normally, I’d have been out since it was a Friday night, but I had sprained my ankle earlier in the day. (Never play golf in Keds.) In that chat room was a nice young man. He was flirty, made fun of me for spraining my ankle on the golf course and after chatting for a few hours — with the other hundred or so people in the room — asked if he could email me.
That email turned into hundreds of emails, which turned into phone calls, and finally, a face-to-face meeting. Of course, when we met, everyone was terrified, because according to them, the Internet was filled with rapists and murderers. We’ve been together 15 years, married nearly 14 and have a 12 year old son.
Fast forward to 2013 and the state of the world I work in feels as if it’s going to hell in a hand basket. The Wall Street Journal has decided I’m some sort of party animal. I hate to break it to you WSJ, I was at Type-A Advanced in Philadelphia two weeks ago and was in bed at 10pm, working, with a bottle of water and Udi’s Gluten-free Snickerdoodle cookies.
That’s right folks, I know how to rage.
Sure, I’m a mom, but that is not my entire identity. I feel like publications/journalists are out to slay the “mommy blogger”and seem to forget I am more than “Mom.” Before I was a mother, I was Lisa. And while I love my son, I also take time to make sure I nurture Lisa. My son is part of me. Giving birth to him was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, or will ever do, in my life. But being his mother does not define me as a whole. If it did, I’d crack. For me to be a happy mother, I have to remember who Lisa is and do little things for her as well.
I’m a writer. I also do true social media strategy — meaning I take a set of problems and come up with a solution that makes everyone happy and gets measurable results. I do community management — and I’m good at it. (Believe me, there is a lot more to it than Facebooking and Tweeting.) I’m also working on two books (not including the folders full of notes for future projects.)
I don’t have time to go and party like it’s the dot com era and money is flowing like Cristal in the VIP room of NYC clubs. I mainly write for a living. Show me a normal everyday working writer with Cristal money and I’ll show you a writer who is truly blessed financially; or has a magic chicken laying golden eggs in their closet.
But lately, the world of social media has been slowly eroding. At times, I feel it’s an avalanche trying to bury us all. Social media is no longer about conversation. It feels like it’s about shoving your opinion down someone’s throat and that’s the be-all-end-all. I don’t even have to go into what I have seen, but opinions are just that: opinions—and they’re written all the time. They have been around since the existence of time. Except people used to believe in having a verbal discourse known as a conversation and would respect another person’s opinion.
What happened to the art of conversation? When did we forget to sit back, take a deep breath, collect our thoughts and then proceed? Instead of moving ahead with all of this grand technology, it feels like we’re moving backwards. It’s like we’re becoming digitized cave people: truncating our thoughts into 140 characters or less, sharing (or is it promoting?) our selfie photos like cave paintings on a wall, or Vining our little clips where we discovered fire or invented the wheel.
We’re not becoming more civilized, we’re becoming more primitive.
I’m not perfect. Sure I’ve been known to spout off at the mouth without thinking. I’m human. However, the older I get, the more I think about what I say and the ramifications. Call me an old fogey, but I worry the last thing I say to someone could be something that hurt them deeply and I don’t want that on my conscious. It’s not saying I don’t have an opinion, but it’s that I take my time and process.
Does that affect me as a writer? Not really, as the only opinion pieces I write are here and rarely anything that would cause heat. That’s because the voice in my head are the my Grandmother, Mother and Aunt, all telling me “If you don’t have anything to say about anyone, it’s best not to say it at all.” The phrase “never discuss in public what you wouldn’t discuss in polite company” also rings a bell.
I’m just still trying to figure out where social is heading. I know where I’m headed — to expand my efforts to create a better, kinder world with social media. By moderating my actions, I hope to influence others and remind them of days gone past… when courtesy ruled and we respected others opinions.