Social media ... we both love it and hate it. I’m only on Facebook — I don’t use Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. And what is Tumblr? I have no idea. Facebook alone is enough for this old girl to handle!
The drawbacks of social media are well known, not the least being the way it offers a platform that seems to bring out the worst in some people. This happens under the cloak of anonymity, and it happens out in the open.
I’ll never forget something that occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign. I was responding to a comment on a friend’s Facebook page regarding the day Hillary Clinton stumbled into her car after a 9-11 remembrance in New York (she had pneumonia). I said I was surprised by the unkind posts her stumble inspired. Regardless of her party affiliation and who she is, Mrs. Clinton is first and foremost a human being with an exhausting schedule and, no doubt, lowered immunity who happened to get sick. Can we not be kind?
In less than 10 seconds, a flood of hate-filled, profanity-laced comments were directed at me: a “crazy liberal.” I immediately signed off. Who were these people who didn’t even know me? I had not said a word about supporting either candidate for president. In fact, my point was that I support the human race. Must we immediately harbor egregious and ugly presumptions about one another?
On the plus side, social media has opened up for me a world of contact with family and old friends.
I feel closer to my granddaughter who lives several states away. I don’t know what I would do without the delightful posts and videos I see regularly. Granddad and I feel like participants in those oh-so-important developmental milestones that may happen between cherished in-person visits.
Facebook even enabled me to find a special student from my very first year teaching. This student inspired my life’s calling when I skipped her from kindergarten to second grade. I am still a gifted education teacher nearly 40 years later.
When an article I wrote entitled, “The Challenge of Melissa” was published, I wanted to share it with her. I knew Melissa’s family moved away from our area years ago, and she could be married with a new last name by now. I wasn’t sure how to find her but decided to simply try typing her name into Facebook. Up popped a list which included ladies who used her surname as their middle names. A profile picture confirmed that I had found my Melissa.
We reunited two years ago and have enjoyed staying in touch as Facebook “friends.” This would never have happened without the wonder of the internet.
It is my hope that the positive aspects of social media and the internet in general will far outweigh the negatives via appropriate regulation and privacy controls. We should be kept safe while learning and keeping in touch.