Social media: How bad is it?

My social media feed is, quite ironically, littered with posts about the apparent trash-fire that is social media. I get it. It’s not all sunshine and roses. I would know, having spent far too long in the stranger corners of it in the name of research and morbid curiosity. I’ve been in Facebook groups for Doomsday Preppers, groups devoted to vicious arguing under the guise of debate, Flat Earth groups and more. There are many hours that I’ll never get back, reading forums, tweets, posts and pins peddling conspiracy theories, fear, pseudoscience and dangerous quackery.

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Facebook Community Groups

I’ve been conducting an unofficial little survey on my personal profile about Facebook Community Groups. Your local area noticeboard style group on Facebook- is it a civilised, helpful group to trade recommendations and discuss what’s on in your area or is it a cesspit of bigotry and never-ending arguments? There’s always a bunch of “regular” people in them, the kind that avoid conflict or serious discussion and just want to find out what time the fireworks start at the Christmas Carols. They probably make up the majority of these groups but you’d hardly know they’re there. They aren’t the ones making all the noise!

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I would like to think that many, perhaps even most, of us are doing the best we can to be good people. What constitutes a “good person” will vary, of course, but in a general sense it involves some level of kindness, generosity and consciousness. One thing I know for sure about being a good person, though, is that it is not a competition.

In the sometimes magnified world of social media, however, practices like call-outs and pile-ons seem to suggest that other people feel otherwise.

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We all spend an inordinate amount of time socialising online. Far more than we do in the physical world, that’s for sure. I know a lot of people worry that this is a bad thing but I’m not one of them. As a person who likes to have discussions and see what other people are thinking about or doing, but isn’t always so keen on intense mingling with a large number of people, social media is a blessing. It has actually been an excellent way to filter people, for me anyway.

Facebook, in particular, has been a godsend in helping me sort out who I actually want in my life. Some people seem nice enough at social things, when you first meet them. But friending them on facey shows a whole other side to the mild-mannered guy you had a beer with at your friend’s barbecue. You might have spoken about a mutual love of Game of Thrones, but you didn’t ask his opinion on refugees, marriage equality and climate change, if you know what I mean. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to identify, fairly quickly, who my kinda people are. I realised a while ago now that life isn’t like school, where you have to be friends with everybody. If someone is a jerk, you can just not be friends with them. Don’t waste your awesomeness on people that don’t deserve you. That’s my motto, anyway. You can just quietly click unfriend or unfollow. Unjerk your social media feeds, if you will.

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