I’ve been guilty of it myself–trashing social media because of the many ways in which it’s abused. Political news and the haranguing that follows; myriad news flashes of one disaster or another. People who post the most cynical remarks in a funny way are still cynical. I hope I’m like everyone else–I’m sick of it.
In fairness, I get a lot out of Social Media too. I find, among the cynics, haters and the fanatics, people who I really can appreciate.
For example, I found a poet, a young woman who paints the most compelling pictures with words, in 140 characters or less on Twitter. I’m so impressed by her, I think of her as a model, and as a friend. We sometimes indulge in a little poetic ‘correspondence’–she writes something to everyone, I give a poetic reply, and she responds to me. Sometimes she makes my day. I’ve found another person with an arcane sense of humour and unusual interests (that I share), who thrills me no end when I post something she finds funny or comforting.
In the world of Social Media, where everyone’s name is in The Cloud, I’ve found people I can reach out to for help and information. The anonymity we all enjoy in cyberspace allows me to put up a sensitive question in the right place: ‘Does anyone else have this experience, this feeling, this fear? Is it just me?’ I’ve been surprised by the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because sometimes, it feels like I’m the only one with PTSD. Whenever I ask these questions, I find I’m in no way alone.
I think I’ve learnt as much about people by interacting on Social Media as I have by meeting people in person.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity to reach out to other when they’re hurting in some way. Making no claim to wisdom, I find opportunities to share what I know or believe, and comfort someone else. Just to-day, a woman complained she never dreams about her recently deceased husband. I know someone who had had the same experience, and I passed along what I’d learnt.
Social Media is a rich tapestry of opportunities to do something good for someone else, or to make someone laugh. It’s a place of surprise–someone I never heard of responds to a post or tweet and says, ‘You’re absolutely right,’ or ‘I’ve had that experience too,’ and suddenly the world seems the tiniest bit brighter.
You get from Social Media whatever you put into it. If you want to be contentious and rebellious, you’ll find plenty of cohorts. If you want to talk about your creative writing frustrations, someone will sing that song with you. If you want to do something good with no one in particular in mind, there are plenty of people in need to accept what you have to offer, and do so appreciatively.
Social Media is like a big box of crayons–you may have to dig around, but you will find what you need.
It’s good to remember these things.
Paul TN Chapman
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