For all it’s terrible aspects, there’s some stuff that’s fantastic about social media. And for all that’s fantastic about it, there are some terrible aspects. One way or another, we’re stuck with it, it’s “here to stay”…at least until the Next Big Thing comes along.
Both the wonder and the problem with social media are that it enables nearly intimate personal exchanges, access to an amazing array of factual information, and virtually instantaneous relay of up-to-the-minute communication among a vast number of people. None of these were conceivable pre-internet.
The trick is in the “nearly” and the “virtually.” Ah, there’s the rub. Intimacy is, by definition, not something you share with whoever and whomever you should stumble upon in the course of your life. The “up-to-minute communication” may be wrong or wrong-headed, can be shut off in a moment by a controlling government or monitored down to the dirt under one’s fingernails. And the amazing array of factual information may also be wrong, distorted, or, in the best case, simply thin, raw, unanalyzed — a vast tangle of disconnect factoids with no discernible integrity, no basis to form inferences by which one could reach valid conclusions of significance.
Social media is simultaneously a lonely world full of people, disconnected facts, and innumerable cute cat videos and a way of sharing truly precious moments with people one cares about.
If we’re lucky enough to be on this side of the digital divide, we can rejoice about what it brings to our doorstep , but we should not mistake it for the hug of a loving friend or the honesty of a good long candid conversation.
Still, I love to see pictures of my kids and grandchildren…and some of those cat videos really are funny.