In my limited world of social media (let’s face it – we’re really only friends with those people that think exactly the same as we do), a recent post on the ridiculous eating habits of health and lifestyle ‘guru’ Amanda Chantal Bacon, owner of the exclusive high brow brand, Moonjuice, sent my Facebook like reputation off the charts. While I stand by my position that her daily routine is reserved exclusively for those with boatloads of money and too much time on their hands, as the snide comments kept coming, I wondered why I felt the need to ignite such vitriol. Admittedly, my ego enjoyed seeing my social media status soar. Yet, I do not consider it my finest moment.
Which begs the question: are we only ‘liked’ or ‘loved’ when we ridicule others or offer inciting commentary that disconnects us further? I’ve noticed when I have something meaningful to say (from my perspective) or try to promote offerings on meditation or insightful teachings, my social media stats are not nearly as impressive. Why is it that our most applauded posts are the ones that encourage us to divide? Despite Facebook’s claim that it brings us closer in community, does social media reduce us to our lowest common denominator and at its core, make us a more shallow and divisive society? I argue yes. Yes it does.
There’s very little ‘listening’ happening on social media. How can we listen when words aren’t actually spoken? We can’t hear intonation, cadence or emotion through the pecks of a keyboard. There’s a lot of reacting back and forth as we tend to, as the old ones used to say, fire off at the mouth. There’s a lot of opinion flying around. And remember, opinions are like assholes – everybody has one. Apologies for the crudeness, but it’s a very appropriate turn of phrase in this case.
Thoughtful dialogue and debate seems to have flown the coop. No matter how insidious the rhetoric becomes, slaying swords is not the answer. Yet, social media is not really the breeding ground for thoughtful conversation. I myself don’t take social media too seriously. Admittedly, I often am flippant in my posts. It is not where I offer my highest intellectual offerings or insightful ponderings. Yet, it’s where most of us are spending our time. What does that say about our culture (myself included)? Should we shift? Can we shift? Or is it a beast that will continue to drive our daily patterns and habits? An addiction gone terribly awry?
I don’t have the answer but I think it’s worth asking the questions. At the very least, we can be more aware and conscious how we utilize social media. I can’t promise I’ll never write a snide or insensitive comment on social media or be an exemplary embodiment of peace, love and unicorns. I will however, do my best to rise above the social media sludge that seems to be dragging society down. And it starts with an apology to Ms. Bacon. Yes, I have an opinion and it hasn’t changed. I still find your daily health habits ridiculously unattainable for the average (even the above average) woman and concur with the NY Times pegging you as a lifestyle guru selling self absorption. But I bet I’d like you and be able to tell that to you to your face.