We all have that person who doesn’t really get technology.
Maybe it’s the TV remote that’s outside their scope. Maybe it’s the smartphone he never really wanted. For many, though, this is most publicly seen with social media.
For me, it is generally with family. Names and relationships have been withheld to protect the impaired.
I have someone who doesn’t understand how to share.
It is likely that a large portion of the fake news being spammed across the interconnecting webs of Facebook from Russian bots all started with someone in my gene pool. I have someone with an absolutely Pavlovian response to anything involving a dog. It will be distributed with the childlike belief usually reserved for Santa in a Hallmark movie, no matter how obviously false and easily disputed.
And it won’t just be shared. It will be shared two or three times in rapid succession, because if you didn’t believe it the first time, you might the third. It will also be sent to you in a message in case you missed it, and possibly in an email, because, hey, don’t we all miss email forwards from the early 2000s?
Then there are the sports stories. (Full disclosure: It is possible that I have been an offender here.)
I think that if you like sports at all, you know it’s better when you pick a side. But that doesn’t mean that we need to turn Twitter into an armed camp of hostile nations spoiling for nuclear war. Actions have consequences.
I have learned to restrain my trash talk about the football teams I hate to the depths of my soul because I have at least one family member who supports each of them and returns the favor in spades. There is no quarter and I am fairly certain that if the Steelers and Eagles ever did meet in the Super Bowl, the FBI would be arresting several of us for cyberbullying. I now reserve my vitriol and hilariously brutal memes for safer targets. Like the Patriots. Go Rams!
But maybe the most difficult thing for some to grasp is the very public nature of where these things collide. Social media is, by definition, social. It isn’t something private. It isn’t an inside voice.
We all have ideas, opinions, thoughts. They crash around in our heads, flashing like high beams when something grabs our attention. But in real life, the time it takes for something to go from your brain to your mouth can filter a lot out. Online, your fingers have less control.
This leaves you with people who say things that are, let’s be honest, just nuts. Or wrong. Or both. And those people are a challenge. But so are the other people. You know which ones. The ones whose life mission is to correct the people who are wrong. Fun fact: Change perspective and these are often the same people.
We need to realize that, like any technology, social media is a tool, and it can be used in good ways and bad ones. And if you don’t know how to use a tool, it’s best to leave it alone.