The Social (Media) Experiment
There are repercussions, consequences, and outcomes of using our speech that can be far less than favorable to our agendas and desires. What we say these days can be instantly spread to larger and larger circles of people with perfect fidelity. On the internet, there is no ‘whisper down the lane’. What you say is captured forever, potentially misconstrued out of context, and bashed back over your head like a heavy club, or at times like a sharp ax. But all too often, your words will simply fade back into a sea of words. Voices that cannot be heard with the human ear. Voices that can provide little in the way of substance. Voices which are self-directed and self-interested.
Those who choose their words, their timing and the conversation to enter into poorly, know this simple truth well. The internet isn’t a court of law, but you are being judged by what you say, how you say it, and where you say it.
Social media, Facebook, in particular, has become (for me at least) a den of unhappy echoes. Voices that crowd in with opinions that are less than ‘fully baked’. If we are to use critical thinking or even just common sense, the words people put in tweets, in random posts, and in comments within posts, paint an ugly or stupid picture, and so end up characterizing and perhaps, in a sense, ‘typecasting’ a person’s image. How you are perceived online is how you bleed through into everyday life.
We don’t get our words right when we speak out loud among people either, but usually, we can catch on to what we’re saying and correct ourselves. When you are more familiar with people, friends or even coworkers, for example, they hear a great deal more than just your words. Facial expression, body posture, and movements all add that missing depth to what it is you’re attempting to communicate.
Have you noticed, for example, that everyone is usually just trying to make everyone else laugh? We are using our humor as a species to deflect and ease the inordinate pressures of a modern world we can barely keep up with and weren’t designed by nature to endure on a permanent basis. Yet, we have created this new world and we are constantly striving to adjust to its rapid shifts and changes.
Now, to be perfectly clear, I’m not here to make any of this sound like its a bad thing. People are social creatures. We are all familiar with the argument that much is lost in translation through the written word alone when it comes to socializing ‘virtually’. And yet, virtual is all we have. If you don’t believe me, look up the word virtual in full, and you’ll see I’m technically correct.
This same argument about words not communicating the full import can be turned to media like books. If an author/writer isn’t entirely sure of herself, what she wants to say, how she intends to create a sense of context, how to describe body language that goes with dialogue, then so much really is lost in translation. Those books often end up with poor reviews. We're not all writers. Especially on social media. The war is of words, and if you're not especially skilled in using them, you will waste your voice to a cacophonous sea which makes no audible noise.
While you may now be thinking to yourself how pointless this all is, just realize that life could also be seen that way. We're here one day and gone the next. All our carefully laid plans to acquire materials and goods become forfeit when its over. Similarly, when our words meet blindered eyes and stuffed ears, we are a garbled distraction for a few moments at best.
If you're a writer, someone who is doing their best to communicate, then really go all out. Use social media, your blog/website, as a way to really take your time and articulate your perspective, your vision, you understanding. Make it clear that when someone reads your words, they are reading your mind, your heart, your sense of being. It will at least give you more connection to others.
I wrote the following in my journal today...
There's a lot more to say here, but there are other projects that need my attention and time. What do you think? Even if Facebook and Twitter have connected you to friends and family from afar, how often can you keep up with them? If you're young and have a busy career life, how do you manage personal projects, immediate family time, and time with your friends you can spend time in the same room with, sans computer? If you're retired maybe the social media experiment is a boon for you. Everyone's different. These are just my musings.
If you have a different idea I'd love to hear it in the comments section below.