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How Connected Are We on Social Media?

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How Connected Are We on Social Media?

“Falsehood flies and the truth comes limping after it.” The first person to say this quote was Johnathon Swift in 1710. Later, paraphrasing and figurative language were used with such familiar people was Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and Thomas Jefferson. The more familiar expression is “A falsehood can reach the four corners of the earth before the truth has her boots laced up.” Who would have guessed the term “fake news” would ever come into play and actually affect the way citizens of this great nation vote?

It seems with things like Facebook (FB), Instagram and Snapchat, we’re more connected than ever. But some studies suggest an increased level of loneliness in our society. Are these social websites helping us to reach out like never before to be more connected and social with those near and far? Those of us who remember life without FB are most likely a bit thankful every act and misact of our high school, college and young adulthood was not posted for the world to see.

Perhaps even more thankful that vacation pics were not readily available for our friends before our kids really got to pour over them at home. We remember getting our photos developed, creating an album and reliving the vacation as a family. We would look over those photos again and again and show them to anyone willing would look.

Just recently a town in Switzerland has passed a law to forbid taking pictures. You will be fined if you take photos on your phone or camera. They believe people are ruining “in the moment” experiences by oversharing. This little town might be onto something. However, what about the friend or family member who genuinely wants to be connected through those pictures? Honestly, we do live to see pictures of our grandchildren pop up, but what about privacy? And people lurking on the internet who you don’t want to be connected to.

Aside from sharing photos FB has taken on a different tone from its beginning. Briefly, FB was created by Mark Zuckerberg, while attending Harvard. The site was created to connect with other Harvard students. It quickly snowballed and connected to other colleges. The site continued to grow into the social media phenomenon it is today with over 1 billion users every month as well as over 1.2 billion people using instant messenger. Instant messenger is yet another way to send a message, photo, etc. through the social media platform.

As stated above, FB grew quickly among young adults and at the speed of lightning, students in high school were also using FB on a daily basis building social connections. The site is free with two stipulations- you must have a valid email and be over 13. The regulations do not appear to be strictly enforced since we see younger and younger children using the service.

The post college FB wave began around 2010. What they found was that not only were they connecting with their family and close friends, they also found long lost high school and college friends.

This was fun! And guess what? People in the 40-50 something age range began to discover and invade FB! It seems to be a learning curve for the older folks, with several posts that were supposed to be private messages ending up on FB walls. Many a FB jokes ran amok at the expense of mom and dad on FB when the middle and older age invasion began. WTF = Well that’s fun. And more such memes began.

And for a long while FB seemed to be all fun and games. However, as with any social setting comes not so positive connections. Cyber bullying and blocking increased. Teen depression related to social media sites spiked and research showed kids as young as 10 on these sites being bullied.

In the past, kids came home from school and had a break from the social setting and it’s challenges. There was a peace from the outside world. This protection of the home no longer exists. As long as young people are connected to the internet, they are often over exposed to harassing and bullying.

“The internet is a key influence, as well. Cyberbullying, for example, is as serious a problem as face-to-face bullying,” Shain, a child psychiatrist with NorthShore University Health System, said in the statement. Cyberbullying became a new word for parents to worry about. Schools began to educate parents about the dangers of Facebook relationships and the more public way people could humiliate each other.

People are constantly connected online via social media. And children and teens have had their most disturbing connections on FB and Snapchat. Snapchat supposedly is a site where something is displayed and then disappears. However, if someone takes a screenshot and reshares, that theory is gone.The concern for the true quality of the social connections and how this affects children’s overall well being is in question. Many, many children have been mercilessly bullied via social media to the point of isolation and self-harm.

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People say that Facebook makes them feel more connected, but research shows that it also makes people feel lonely. This is a paradox. When asked more questions, the respondents replied it seems as though their friends have a more interesting life than they do. Seriously, a person can make sitting on the porch sound interesting if they have a mind to do so. It sometimes is all about the spin. Really, we all just have lives. Some of us share every little thing. Some share nothing. Many share pictures about every little thing. It’s just up to every person what they share and what they don’t.

Facebook and Snapchat, (Snapchat is a way to send pictures and quick notes that supposedly disappear after they are sent) are ways to solidify popularity in school or destroy people. And if a child is on the latter end, it can be devastating. Kids have become depressed or worse in a matter of hours due to repeated posts via the internet about true or untrue items or pictures about them.

So, there are positives and negatives about social media. People have reconnected with friends from both high school and college. But what about the politics of social media. How many people have been blocked or unfriended because of social media? Do we say and do things behind a computer that we would not do in person? There is something to think about.

And what about the surveys to click on? How many of those are just to get your information? Social media is a tool and a fun one at times, but just like with anything, you must be aware of people who are out there trying to steal your information that should always be kept private.

Do not accept friendships from people you do not know. You should not share pictures of your kids and grandkids with just anyone. Check your privacy settings and make sure your friends cannot share what you share as far as photos go.

The best idea with social media is to stay social. There are other places to take a stand, but if you truly feel it’s time to stand up, well then stand up you must. But then realize you might be unfollowed or defriended by others. Here is another idea. Call people on the phone and talk to them ear to ear. Meet for coffee or go for a walk. The computer is wonderful, but social media should not take the place of face to face interactions.

As Americans, let’s not let social media influence the way we vote. Instead, we should look at every source from where things are posted. I don’t mean our friends who post, but where the post is actually coming from. The source of the post. We patriots stand for truth. Look for truth, even on social media.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Andrew

    August 25, 2019 at 9:56 AM

    I agree with this article.

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