We’ve seen sea-changes before: some concept, some invention, some new way of doing things that has an incredible impact on our society. And the lives not just of this generation, but many future generations.
Social media is one example.
In an obviously apocryphal story, a man wrote:
“I enjoy social media like Twitter and Facebook so much that I decided to have the same fun in meat space as in virtual space. So now when I walk down the street, I tell everyone what I am doing and where I am going and what I had for lunch and show the passers-by the cute pictures of my grandchildren and my cats. I tell them what I like to eat, and share recipes. I give thumbs-up to people I see do neat things – even if I don’t know them. I tell strangers I really like what they are wearing. And that I think they have great smiles.
“And you know what? It’s working! I’m being “friended” by a lot of people and I am even gaining followers now. In fact, right now, I’m being followed by FOUR people as I walk down the street doing my thing. Really nice folks, too: two cops, a private detective, and a psychiatrist!”
Now, don’t get us wrong. Social media is NOT inherently evil – it is a tool. No different than email or regular (snail) mail or radios or television. BUT it can be easily put to bad, evil uses. And its use – especially addiction and misuse – of social media can and has created many problems.
Consider this. Why do we NOW seem to have more mass shootings than ever before in American history? After all, we’ve always had guns and always had a gun culture. And we’ve always had criminals and those who treat others like prey or bugs. So why now?
One suggestion has to do with social media. Social media, and the attendant desire of young people to become famous just to be famous.
Not “I want to be a football star” or “I want to front a huge rock band”. No, it’s “I want to get to 1 million likes on this video of me playing video games, then I’ll be able to play video games on YouTube for a living!”
But, my goodness, that doesn’t work out very often, does it? Like getting into pro sports!
As all the normal pressures of school and puberty get heavier (and they’re not successful with girls) – and then work and making a living. And people don’t seem to like them. (Can’t imagine why. Zero pride in their appearance? No network of friends or personality due to videos games being more important? No time outdoors where they might see – even meet people? Yet they think they’re entitled to the most attractive, most popular girls (or guys) in their school. After all, social media and pop culture promised them that, right?)
So they are the rejects of society. Society – including social media – has created a monster.
So now we’ve got a kid who’s bitter, jealous, has few or no real friends, feels like the girls who reject him are not only turning him down, they’re denying him something he thinks he has a right to. How can he get revenge and, most importantly, make sure everyone knows how he feels (as social media has been teaching him is his right)? At this point the copycat phenomenon kicks in, and we’re stuck in a feedback sample. After every one of these atrocities, another similar loser kid in another school across the country moves one step closer to doing something heinous.
And political leaders, religious leaders, media pundits, etc. all bleat on about guns, which the next shooter ignores, so focused is he on how much he doesn’t have…thanks to social media.
This is just one thought on one idea about the negative impact of social media. There are, of course, many more. And we should not fall into the trap of the hoploclasts and hoplophobes. Like guns, social media is a tool which can be used for good and bad. But we must be aware of the risks which social media offers. Because it IS a tool that can be used by enemies of liberty and isn’t limited just to being used to promote and spread liberty.