In light of the whole Manti Te’o online girlfriend hoax and the innumerable “opinions” that have come with the situation, I am reminded of one thing when it comes to social media:
It’s a show.
Twitter and Facebook make everyone actors. It’s not enough to have an opinion or react to a situation. You feel compelled to share that opinion with our tens, or hundred, or thousands of followers. And it doesn’t stop there. You now feel compelled to frame your opinion in an extreme way to draw attention and aggrandize yourself.
Social media has the power to be helpful. It also has the power to turn ordinary people into blowhards, and blowhards into spiteful lunatics.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy social media, particularly Twitter. I get my news and my daily humor from it. But there seems to be a running juxtaposition between the way people treat social media when it helps them, and when it–for lack of a better phrase–bites them in the ass.
I wrote about filters, authenticity, anonymity, and false authority before when it comes to social media, but I also think there are many false pretenses about social media as well. Here are a couple:
- “What I say on Facebook/Twitter doesn’t matter.” Oh, but it does. Nothing you say is private anymore (no matter how you set your permission levels). And in the information age, knowledge is a double-edged sword. Anything you say can and will be used for or against you.
- “They’ll get that what I’m saying is just a joke.” We’re all guilty of this one. But you only have 140 characters on Twitter. And communication is 90% non-verbal. Social media is “verbal” only. Your followers have to take what you say or type at face value with little to no context.
Authenticity matters. Responsibility matters, too. Do I filter myself? Yes. Do I think I’m being authentic on social media platforms? To a point, yes. But I can be authentic and responsible. I wish more folks would understand that balance and not give in to the “show.”