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The Arresting Rise of the Social Media Police

You type a few sentences, add a link or post a picture and hit SEND. Then the sirens start. WARNING! WARNING! The social media police are stalking you, ready to take you down.

Watch Out!

It was a pretty simple joke. I updated my status on Facebook with what was meant to be a humorous comment, referencing a current event. Tainted, of course, with a little sarcasm. I thought it was harmless and was surprised when a dear old friend took offense to it.

Is there anything at all that isn’t offensive to someone these days?

Social Media is a way for us to connect. We share our thoughts, what we’re doing, our hopes and dreams– we may reach out for support, ask opinions or look for some healthy debate. It’s called sharing. It’s called communication. We use it to keep touch and stay informed — maybe even learn a thing or two.

I’ve found that most posts in social media fall into three categories: I felt this, I did this, and I saw this (and I want to share it).

How is that a bad thing?

Even if you post something that might not be a popular opinion– it’s nothing more than an expression of who you are at that given moment. Doesn’t freedom of speech give you that right?

Is there such a thing as inappropriate content? Of course there is….. BUT Politics, religion, entertainment, current events, family– your life– is completely within your rights to share.

My Opinion

I seriously think there are a lot of people that should not be connected to social media. They aren’t capable of accepting what they find there– or allowing others to exercise their right to free speech. They don’t want to discuss or debate an issue they may disagree with– but they will judge you for posting it.

Do I read, like or comment on everything posted on social media? No, of course not. I do, however, respect the right of people to post it. If I want to engage with people about it, then I will. Most of the time though, people just want to get something off their chest, share a story or state their point of view. They aren’t really looking to have a conversation. That’s okay, too.

On topics I’m not interested in or disagree with — I just scroll on by. If it’s ‘fake news’ or something I feel strongly about, I’ll try to use it as a ‘teaching moment’ and comment. What I will not do, is criticize or state an opposing view that I am not prepared to back up. What would be the point?

That is where the social media police come in.

So exactly who are they?

They are the people that troll online, criticizing people and trying to regulate what they want to see. Don’t even try to please them because they will always find something wrong with your posts.

They are the people that don’t like a specific thing– sports, politics, religion, even cuteness– and issue ultimatums. Usually, that will include the threat that they will delete you or stop following you, if you don’t submit to their demands. They think it is their right to control you.

It becomes difficult when the attacks come from someone you respect, love, work with, or from family. The bottom line is: maybe you (and they) need to stick to other ways to connect. Avoid the rush and get off social media if you can’t handle it.

I’m a political person. Even so, after the above mentioned friend threatened to delete me for my politics, I did a quick look back. Of my past 50+ posts on Facebook, only 10 (20%) had anything to do with current events (not counting entertainment industry posts) and not all of those were even political. For the ‘average’ person– is that too much if that’s what interests them?

Would you tell a mother not to post pictures or stories about their child? Would you tell an actor or musician not to share their work? How about someone fighting cancer or a sports enthusiast? Should they stop posting specific things because you say so? It’s ridiculous.

Sure, I’ve unfollowed some people and even deleted a couple. I’ve never bullied them. At the same time, some of my most favorite people (on social media) are those with whom I have diametrically opposing views on certain issues. Because — we can talk about it, maybe debate it and also even sometimes joke about it. We show respect for one another. I think we enrich each other’s lives because we are open-minded enough to want to learn and understand each other. We’re better people because of it.

Advice to the Would Be Social Media Police

Get off social media!

It’s that simple.

No one has the right to try and control another person. Stop being a bully. You are not the center of the universe. If you don’t like what you see on Facebook or Twitter? Close your account. Shut down your computer. Take a walk. Breathe.

I think if you’re the type of person that just wants to see pictures or cute posts of puppies and food– there are still probably email lists you can sign up for to get your daily dose.

Don’t like what you’re seeing? Your misery and controlling nature doesn’t need to be forced on the rest of us who might actually appreciate the diversity of the world.

Knowledge is power. Acceptance is the key.

If you really don’t like what your friends are posting, maybe you’re just too afraid of learning something new. Or maybe, you really just don’t like your friends.

You decide.

The Disturbing Truth About Social Media

header-bad-reviewsThe ugly truth is that social media is becoming less about engaging and connecting- enriching our lives; and more about attacking and spreading untruths.

Do you think before you post? We’ve all been guilty at one time or another of sharing a post or link without investigating it first: Like the reoccurring Facebook privacy-protection posts. Hopefully, we can all learn that its better to check it out first before we spread false alarm to our friends.

There’s a lot of anger and hate online. Lately, I’ve witnessed a lot of business owners using their personal accounts to attack and smear their competition. They post negative and misleading comments and reviews– even though they’ve never used their competition’s services.

Can you defend your posts on hot button topics? Are you willing to?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… what do they mean to you? Do you primarily rely on them to keep in touch with others? Make new connections? Do you believe everything you read?

What is social media?

Social Media: forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)

Social Networking: the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships especially online

GEJs-aide-Mrs-Sarah-Pane-cautions-on-use-of-social-mediaDo you use social media the same way today as you did, say, two years ago? I keep asking myself how long social media will remain the phenomenon it has been or whether its popularity is starting to die off. Many of my friends barely even post anymore. A number of them have begun deleting their accounts. With all the negativity, it’s no wonder why.

Bullying Online. There is a frightening trend of hateful and often unfactual content online. More and more people attacking others for their personal opinions, calling names and even harassing individuals and businesses without cause.

I find myself getting more and more worked up over the insensitive and hateful nature of so much that is being posted through social media– particularly Facebook. Anonymity of online identities versus face to face confrontations is allowing brazen cowards to spew hate and bully other people for having opinions.

People that attack others online– and there are a lot of them– aren’t doing anything more than showing their ignorance.

Agree to Disagree? What happened to free speech and open debate? I just had someone delete my (polite) comments after they posted some derogatory comments about a political figure. They didn’t represent all the facts. My comments were not disrespectful or aimed at the poster– I just wanted to clarify and perhaps shed some light and encourage them to look at the situation in a different way. They really couldn’t disagree with my comments because I was stating fact- not merely taking a position. Instead of challenging, discussing or debating the issue; they just deleted my comments and added even more hateful (unsupported) comments of their own.

In another recent exchange, I had what I thought was a wonderful debate with this same individual over an entirely different issue. See the mixed signals here?

If social media ceases to be an open platform for the exchange of thoughts and ideas- what is the point? If you post something, do you really expect everyone to agree with you? If everyone does agree with you, what was the point of posting it to begin with?

Fact is Fact. This is true. BUT anyone can spin a situation to make the actual facts support their position. You also have to remember- everything that is stated as fact– isn’t. I have a general rule that if something doesn’t make sense, or I want to back up a position; I try to find a minimum of 5 agreeing sources before I’ll accept it as probable truth. This often means I have to search beyond the media-bias reporting from agenda-based websites that will regurgitate the same thing from another similar site, without researching its authenticity. Is it a fact, is it a commentary, or is it a lie?

Social Connection. Life isn’t always exciting. Sharing what some may consider ‘mundane’ things is perfectly fine with me. The idea is staying connected.

You want to get your opinion across– that’s understandable. Do you know when enough is enough or when your simply beating a dead horse?

In my world of social media, I’ve started unfollowing people that post the same negative content over and over. I don’t do it just because I may disagree with them. If that’s all they post and they never share anything of personal interest to me or about their own lives; then they are just clogging up my news feed. If unfollowing them doesn’t do the trick, then I delete them all together. I won’t tolerate unfounded hate and ignorance as anyone’s only form of communication.

The positive influences of social media are being overshadowed. The potential for good is being diminished.

In terms of longevity, social media is still quite new. It’s still evolving. Unfortunately, that evolution is taking a dark turn where hate can be expected and ‘fact’ cannot be relied on.

deleteIt’s time we bring back accountability and respect to all of our interactions. Especially online. If we want to stay connected to one another through social media we need to practice kindness and tolerance. The alternative is only a click away.

Stupid People And Social Media

Oops Word on Big Red Button Correct MistakeWatch out because today I’m going to rant! Sometimes I get so frustrated I can’t see straight. What in the world is wrong with people? How is it that some people are so gullible, ignorant, or so full of hate that they can possibly believe anything and everything they hear?

Before I offend anyone, if you honestly believe any of the examples I mention here… PLEASE. Don’t take my word for it. Do some research and make an informed decision on your own.

That brings me to my first point: Do you know that some people don’t know how to find answers to questions? Is there anyone out there brave enough to say they have never heard of Google, Yahoo, or even the library? Word of Mouth is great for conversation starters but a terrible way to get factual information.

Judge Judith Sheindlin (Judge Judy) says, “If it doesn’t make sense, then it’s not true.” So if something doesn’t make sense– LOOK IT UP! Don’t be afraid to question everything.

I’m not not going to tell you where to find your answers, for fear of being accused of pushing my own agenda. I will give you suggestions that might help you sort out the truth from fiction yourself.  Always, always verify through research with multiple sources. If you can’t find enough information, then by all means, be skeptical.

My second point: I do hope everyone understands the difference between Social Media and what is factual news. I realize the lines are being increasingly blurred– which is just one more reason you shouldn’t believe everything you hear or see.

The purpose of Social Media is to engage or inform others through digital and web-based methods of social interaction. The definition continues to develop as technology evolves.  Basically, it is a way to communicate up-to-the-minute activities, ideas and opinions and interact with others about those topics. It is sharing content between users.

Without interaction, social media does not exist. Sharing, commenting, responding, agreeing or disagreeing– are all important to the social media experience. It’s also a way for people to express themselves directly, without necessarily being an authority on a subject. Opinions are not facts. An interpretation is not a fact. Again, this is why I suggest researching anything important or questionable because there are many, many people sharing their opinions and interpretations out there– that doesn’t make them true.

Right-Wing, Left-Wing, Broken-Wing: They just don’t get it. If you get the majority of your “news” from Hannity or Rachael Maddow you are being ignorant. There. I said it. They are talk shows not news programs! There may be facts or current events discussed where there is some factual content; but for the most part, you are being fed opinions and speculations based on their biased agendas.

bringback#Bring Back Our Girls: one of the current idiotic discussions is criticizing Michelle Obama’s #Bring Back Our Girls tweet. It’s a perfect example of how people have no comprehension of what social media is and is not. Obama was voicing her support for the global campaign to draw attention to the 300 Nigerian girls that were kidnapped from their school and are being held hostage, with the promise to sell them into slavery. It is an awareness campaign intended to build support for action in this crisis. This type of action is being referred to as hashtag activism.

Critics are lambasting Obama, saying her tweet and Facebook post was outrageous, pointless, and embarrassing. One critic last night said that it was okay for celebrities to use hashtag activism because they are trying to get the government to act– but NOT okay for Michelle Obama, because she is the government. No one, including Obama, believes the kidnappers will see the posts and let the girls go free. That suggestion is ridiculous. The posts are part of a campaign to build support and awareness of the situation. Common sense should tell you that government action or intervention is best accepted when there is a majority of public support. In this case, the campaign is to engage, inform and build support for action, not an expectation that the campaign, itself, will put an end to the hostage situation.

To carry the idiotic behavior to new levels. Some critics have created their own disrespectful and offensive campaigns in response, such as: #Bring Back Our Country and #Bring Back Our Balls.

true-falseHealthcare: Among the many stupid, ignorance comments I’ve heard regarding the Affordable Care Act, I think I’ve finally heard the most ridiculous of all. Some people actually believe that when you sign up for healthcare (insurance) through the ACA, you get an “Obamacare card”. They believe if you get an “Obamacare card”  doctors, hospitals and pharmacies can refuse it because they don’t want to accept it.

How can anyone believe this? Is it because of misinformation or just pure hate for the ACA and the current administration? I’m not going to say that I agree that people should be forced to purchase healthcare insurance but I do believe insurance should be affordable and available to everyone that wants it.

All Chemicals are Bad: Have you heard people say, “I won’t eat anything that was treated with chemicals. I don’t care if they say it is safe, all chemicals are bad.”

All chemicals are bad? Really? All foods are chemical. Medicines– chemical. Water– chemical. Air– chemical. Our bodies are chemical compositions.

It’s important to remember that many chemicals that are vital to life are actually deadly in high doses. Many of the chemicals that are quoted in the media as being additives to the food supply– to scare you, are already found naturally in untreated, organic foods and natural resources as well.

Does that mean that all chemicals are good and that we shouldn’t question their use? Of course not. But be informed. Don’t just accept every quack doctor’s comments about what you should be afraid of, or avoid, when all they are really trying to do is push their latest book, product or agenda.

Diet soda makes you fat and the chemicals in it will kill you in the process: It must be true because it’s been said for years, right. Doctors say it and there are many articles that say it. So it’s true. No, not necessarily. If you really research the subject, you’ll see that there have been no studied direct links to chemicals such as aspartame, to serious illness or fatality. That doesn’t mean it’s harmless either.

“But I just read…” Read it again. Articles may say “studies show… ” or “a doctor at this or that school (or lab) says…” but then they don’t provide links so that you can read the study or research it yourself. (But make sure you buy their book!) One article I read recently claiming proof from a University study… did provide a link. It lends authenticity, right? Except, when you clicked on the link… it took you to Google Maps NOT a study. Most of us won’t even bother clicking on the link but would accept the statement because it appeared more information was provided.

When a doctor says, “Studies suggest…” you first questions should be: what kind of study, who and where was the study performed and who funded it? Was the study even scientific? Often, these results are quoted from unscientific polls or questionnaires. How someone feels, especially outside of a controlled environment, is not scientific proof of fact. What were the other factors that could have caused these feelings? You won’t know because it wasn’t a controlled, scientific study.

The fat issue really makes me boil. People that take their news from the headlines and don’t even bother to read below the by line are easily convinced: diet soda makes you fat. No, the actual comments doctors have made are that they fear and are concerned that diet drinks and foods give people a false sense that they can eat as much as they want… because it is a diet product; and that doing so will not affect their weight negatively.

(PAUSE)

5-Mistakes-to-avoid-in-Social-MediaAfter I started writing this, I started to feel guilty for picking on people for their ignorance. Ignorance that I don’t fully understand but that I want to compassionately change. The phrase, You can’t believe everything you hear, takes on a heightened importance in this age of the internet and technology where anyone, anywhere can publish their thoughts. Human nature makes us want to believe what we read and that everyone else is honest and above board, even though we know deep down it’s not true. Everyone has an agenda or spin.

You can’t trust news reporting anymore because they don’t thoroughly research like they used to– before releasing their findings. Anything that might boost ratings or garner an audience is considered news worthy. Whenever you see an expert trotted out on display, like at a dog and pony show– and the first question asked is, “What do you think…..” Beware. Any response from an “expert” that starts with, “I believe….”, “This suggests….” I think that…” WARNING! They are only giving an opinion. These are not factual statements, don’t accept them as truth.

Do I think people are intentionally stupid? No, I don’t. I do believe that there are many people that are so biased, for or against topics, that they willing believe anything they hear that support their own position. What’s really troubling is that some people take sides due to some affiliation or belief that may not even be directly related.

I could go on and on with more examples but I think I’ll stop here.

If social media works— then hopefully the people engaged in this misinformation, will eventually get the right information. It only works if people actively seek the truth.

DELETE ME… Please!

In case some people didn’t get the memo… Facebook is a social networking site. It is a place where people can choose their friends based on shared interests, backgrounds and real life relationships. A social networking site allows users to share interests, ideas, events and yes, even what they ate for dinner. You can join groups, follow artists and businesses and make connections in ways that would otherwise be nearly impossible for most people. It is not a site for censorship. It is a site for shared experiences.

FRIEND as defined by Merriam-Webster

1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem

b : acquaintance

2 a : one that is not hostile

b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group

3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)

4 : a favored companion

The other day a friend bitched at me about one of my posts on Facebook.

Seriously? Do you really think your 500 ‘cute kitty’ posts don’t annoy anyone?

Honestly, I don’t really care. It is what it is. You can post whatever you what, whenever you want… and you can post it as many times as you want. It doesn’t affect me. I can choose to read it, ‘hide’ it, ‘LIKE’ it and if I really agree or disagree with you– I can comment on it and we might actually have a social engagement, once referred to as a conversation about it. But– I’m not going to try and censor you and you shouldn’t try and censor me. Our society has an increasing difficulty communicating these days. If you don’t want to engage your friends is conversation, sharing your thoughts and ideas, or to be engaged– why are you on Facebook?

The last time I checked, we still have freedom of speech in this country. People are going to talk about current events, politics, things that make them laugh and things that make them sad. If you are going to use social networking sites: Deal with it! Yes, during the presidential debates, Hurricane Sandy, the playoffs… the News Feed is going to be clogged with posts by people who are engaged by these activities and events. There’s a reason there are settings and controls that allow you to adjust what and how you view content. If you continually get annoyed and are not computer literate enough to know how to adjust your settings: Maybe social networking isn’t for you.

There’s another option. It’s called the DELETE button.

Don’t like what I have to say? Delete Me. Do I post too much? Delete Me. Are you incapable of entertaining a viewpoint that is different from your own or so intolerant that what I say makes your blood boil? Delete Me. Please.

If you only want to engage with people that look like you, sound like you, talk like you and think like you… You might want to invest in a cocoon. ‘Cause, baby– there ain’t no one else in the world like you. You are unique. We all are. Social networking gives us the opportunity to share our unique perspectives with people all around the world.

Think about it– it’s pretty amazing. What I’m talking about in Elgin, Illinois might actually have some relevance to someone in New York City, London or Zambia. You or I might actually have something to say that can impact someone’s life on the opposite side of the globe.

But not if you hit DELETE, and not if you live in a cocoon.

That’s just my opinion.