Uniting and Dividing: Social Media and Us.

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Whether you like it or not, social media is now intricately woven into our society and is here to stay (short of an EMP blast or something of that nature shoving us back into the hard-work ages). With that brings both good and bad, which we can see all around us every day.

After a major incident occurs, such as the horrific slaughter of innocent people in Paris, France, people on all sides of a topic are quick to rush to social media and espouse their feelings and beliefs. For many of us, social media has become an outlet for the pressure we build up inside. Knowing that many people may read our feelings and understand our viewpoints is somehow satisfying. If those feelings and points of view become something that’s shared and re-tweeted numerous times we feel vindicated in our public rant, as others who share the same sentiments are encouraged by our words.

The day or two following the event you’ll see people either waving their rant flag, or bashing everyone for responding so quickly, perceiving those who speak up right away as being opportunistic. Well, just like the politicians who use tragedy and suffering to further an agenda, I’m sure that’s true for some. For others, though, sometimes we simply need to get our pent-up rage and frustrations off our chests by sharing them with the other people around the world who are similarly affected by world events.

This instant and open communication helps us not only to blow off some steam, but it also helps to develop and strengthen our bonds with others who share our values, hopes, fears, and dreams—people we would not have otherwise met in the traditional world. I have many friends that I’ve grown close to on Facebook and Twitter that I see as true friends, some of which I have met in person after the fact, and some that I haven’t. Those friendships have almost always been developed from mutually shared points of view, especially in today’s divisive world where free speech is only tolerated if it is politically approved speech.

On the other hand, though, our social media rants and emotional explosions tend to divide us and push us further apart. After all, everyone is brave behind a keyboard and will say things that they wouldn’t say to your face. There are some people who I love and cherish as a part of my life, but when their rant comes across the screen, showing that they seem to side with everything that I think is wrong with the world, well, you can’t help but let that affect you somehow, even if only on a subconscious level. I’m sure many people have felt that way with some of my posts over time. And let’s face it, you could probably count on one hand the number of people around the world that would honestly change their perspective on an emotionally charged subject simply because you voiced your opinion online or posted it in a meme.

In addition to social networking and being an occupier for that random empty moment, for me at least, the internet and social media has become one of my most important sources of news and information. With friends all over the world sharing what they see and feel, and a plethora of news articles that don’t make the mainstream media’s cut, we each have the freedom to discover things we would not have otherwise known was happening. That being said, again, don’t believe it just because it’s posted online, we’ve all fallen for it only to be embarrassed after the fact that we believed it. If we do our research, however, and only settle on our opinions once we’ve thoroughly explored the topic, the internet is a wonderful thing.

So considering all of the pros and cons of social media in today’s damaged world, should you post what’s on your mind? I say go for it! Wave your rant flag if you must, just do so with the understanding that others may not be very receptive to it. With freedom of speech being blatantly attacked everywhere we look these days under the guise of political correctness and tolerance, I say speak up and speak up often! Don’t let those who would tell you that your opinion is not welcome win the day. If we start filtering ourselves because the PC police tell us our speech is not acceptable… then they have already won.

And as one of the greatest leaders of all time once said:

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