Social media is not a new phenomena. I remember my first encounters back in the late nineties with Black Planet and Black Voices. I met some really interesting people and I made one good friend. After the new millenium there was a boom in social media sites (2002 – LinkedIn, 2004 – Facebook, 2006 – Twitter, 2010 – Instagram). Today there are more sites than you can possibly belong to or check in one day and although there are many positives, we are experiencing some social media woes.
I believe that it is of utmost importance to reveal and discuss these woes now before they create (or continue to create) anti-social media behaviors. We have to learn to use social media in a way that promotes our society instead of allowing it to be used to destroy.
I attended A. Philip Randolph High School years ago and social media has helped me connect with many of my high school friends and acquantances. It has also helped me reach out to family and friends from college (Oakwood College) and even friends from elementary school (R. T. Hudson) and my old block where I grew up (St. Mary’s Projects). This has been, for the most part, a positive thing. However, there are many issues that are creeping into our lives due to social media. The biggest one being: THE ABSENCE OF SOCIALIZING!
I must admit that as a young fellow I felt that I was a social misfit. I did not always know how to act or what to say. All it took back then was for me to take some time, step back and watch what was going on. I saw how the “cool” guys spoke to the girls they liked (and how those girls responded). I saw how friendships were cultivated and maintained. I saw cliques and crews that lasted and some that broke up almost immediately. I saw disagreements, arguements and fights, but I also saw the healing and/or toleration that resulted. This was meaningful social interaction. We talked to each other and read each other’s nonverbal communication as we listened to the verbal communication. This type of interaction is almost extinct today!
Now I know that in our global society, we cannot all get together to talk. That is understandable, but we have allowed the art form of communication to regress to an unrecognizeable state. People are texting marriage invites and funeral notices. Some of my friends only found out that close friends and/or relatives have died because they saw a thread on Facebook. Relationships are suffering because between our phones and our social media accounts, we do not have time to communicate effectively or in some cases sincerely.
So, like Justin Timberlake did with sexy, I am bringing social back! Why? Because it actually isn’t the social media that is the problem. It is they way we are using it! I know for a fact that my personality is one that doesnt always translate on social media. I have made innocent comments to friends that resulted in them getting angry and lashing out. They totally misunderstood me and my statement.
I have a few ideas that can help us get back to being a social community again. This list is not exhaustive. If you have some tips to add, feel free to do so.
1. When you see friends/family you have not seen in a while greet them with a hug, kiss or the appropriate gesture for your relationship. Don’t just wave because you see them on FB all the time.
2. If you are offended by a post a friend has posted, inbox them or better yet call them. Don’t start a war on a thread.
3. If someone is much more than just a facebook friend and you have their phone number, call them on their birthday.
4. Don’t get involved in twitter wars.
5. If you are interested in someone and they are interested in you…PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AND STAY AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER!!!!! Get some time face to face so you can connect for real!!!! Spend time together when you can and make it quality!!!
6. Get LinkedIn with people for business purposes and nothing else!
7. Realize that there are people watching you on all of the social media sites. Some for good things and some for not so good things. Keep your social media image consistent with your real image.
8. Have real conversations on the phone and/or in person. Texts. tweets and posts cannot always adequately express what needs to be expressed.
9. If you are not interested in a person’s post, pass it by. You do not have to comment on everything.
10. If a post is for a certain group of people and you are not one of them, STAY OFF OF THE THREAD!
11. Call a friend and tell them you miss them. Tell them how much they mean to you.
12. Have a small gathering or reunion.
I am sure there are many more things we could do! Let me know what you think!