I’ve been thinking quite a bit about social media and how to navigate it. I was having a conversation recently with a friend who’s teaching a college class, and a lot of the students are in their 20s/late teens. We got to talking about social media and how it’s useful for so many things, but can also be downright dangerous.
Part of that is because perceptions of privacy are so different now than they were when she and I were teens. I didn’t grow up with the ubiquitous intertoobz. Back in the 80s, the Web was nascent among average Americans, and I didn’t even send my first inter-office email until the summer of 1987, I believe it was. I was already in college. Which means I have no conception of posting a photograph in public so that random passers-by could see it and comment on it. That’s just not something I do.
When I was growing up, you interacted primarily face-to-face or via telephone. Because you interacted so much face-to-face, it was damn hard to be a douchecanoe. It’s a LOT harder to troll someone face-to-face in the real world than it is online. The interwebz offer anonymity and distance, both social and physical, and that’s just not something I had growing up.
Everybody knew who the people in town were who you had to avoid, and you did. You were polite enough, because you didn’t want those people following you home from the store if you pissed them off, but for the most part, you left them alone. It never entered my mind, at least, to go and harass somebody just because they were “weird” or “different” or just plain mean or because I was bored. And in order to do that when I was growing up, you had to confront someone directly or lurk outside their house. You couldn’t just hang out in a basement somewhere with a laptop to make someone’s life miserable.
So with that in mind, here are some things about social media that you might find useful. And yes, we are a “NOW NOW NOW” society. But stuff like this requires some introspection and some consideration of ramifications of your actions. Nothing new about that. We could all use a bit of introspection now and again.