Observations of life by author and poet Charles L. Chatmon
Remember the sane days we had before the invention of social media? I sure do. In the past few years there's been an explosion of regular people and public officials expressing their every dark and unsavory opinions over the world wild web. Guess we were all fooled by the premise of this medium which at first, allowed people like you and I to share information instantaneously through a complex system made of wires to connect with each other. Recently, we have all seen the rise of hatred, the rise of anti-intellectualism take hold over our airwaves and more importantly, our minds. Now our very thoughts can be used to convince others to commit acts we would think of as unconscionable - with a quiet pass for the perpetrators of such actions to do them again and again.
I recall the famous author Ray Bradbury through his novel Fahrenheit 451 warned us about the danger of ignoring books, relying more and more on our technology to entertain us. Yet, when you think about it reader, how can you be entertained by all the senseless comments by a few users on social media express their views as if they mean everything to us and now seen as the opinionated viewpoints as they are? Shouldn't social media be a forum where we can discuss and introduce ideas to be debated rather than seen as gospel? Too many users try to establish their brands, platforms, instead of just simply communicating? I get it, I do. I have to establish myself as a 'brand' along with what was just mentioned. Wasting our lives on this medium to merely 'push' our viewpoints to an audience is what drives our news and other social media websites but it shouldnât take up most of our days.
We live in a twenty-first century that when I grew up, was supposed to present promises, ideas, a future we could look forward to. It has instead turned into the ideological-filled quagmire of a present society we allowed ourselves to indulge in. These days, political ideologies are driving our thoughts, our emotions, even our common sense. They've replaced our rational thoughts with emotionalism. We used to talk these things out and discuss rationally. Thanks to social media and a platform, it's easy to create a YouTube channel, Instagram account and share your message with the world. It's ridiculously easy. We now live in a twenty-first century society where 'what I think and say matters devoid of the facts' instead of simply relying on the facts themselves. We want to assume we're always right, no matter what instead of admitting we can be wrong, which is very possible.
Perhaps the warning Bradbury shared with us is that we shouldn't ignore what life presents to us every day. It has beauty and joy with wonder. We should be allowed to wonder, research and explore different possibilities around us. We shouldn't spend time listening to voices that are meant to divide and conquer our rational thoughts, which social media has become. While it has allowed our world to grow closer, it can also tear us apart. We don't have to be a slave to checking our phones every minute of every day to see how many likes or hits we have on a page. As writers, we don't have to.
As a society, we had the internet for close to thirty years, social media for over a decade. In that time I would wager, we've lost our humanity, our interactive communication skills. We would rather post our feelings online than actually going up to a friend and sharing our thoughts with them. We gathered in 'packs' based on race, political class, sexual and social status spreading only our messages, not allowing any dissenting opinions to be introduced.
So I wouldn't go as far as saying social media is causing our societal downfall but don't be surprised of what we are witnessing right now. Anti-intellectualism, lack of reading diverse books, a lack of decorum amongst each other, gathering in our own 'tribes' instead of learning from different opinions, thoughts, these are the factors that are continuously holding us back as a society. The further this continues, there may be no way back. It's up to us as individuals, you and I to determine whether or not we believe it's cool to post our selfies, our unchallenged words online or do we make a move to break away from its influence by thinking for ourselves, reading trusted resources and resisting the temptation to log on our social media sites to witness the latest silly meme or confusing rhetoric. The choice is ours, as it's always been.