My Social Media Rant

This post was originally written on 1/25/14
Facebook is (I’m stealing Mike Jeter’s phrase) my portal to my world back home.  It’s where I keep up with old friends, and spy on others.  I find new photos of my nephew, family, and friends, and in many ways it almost makes it as though I’ve just been on vacation instead of the reality that I moved away for awhile.

But I also find all kinds of crap on facebook.  Political  and religious rants.  Facebook fights (which are all kinds of ridiculous).  Pictures of food, and advertisements for mormon dating sites (that’s for real ps).  I get up to date news on all things famous, Justin Bieber’s DUI as the most recent example.

I find people that are taking quizes about what character are you from what *fill in the blank* tv show, book, or movie.  Games, apps, advertisements, what people ate, a blow by blow of someone’s day.

And I get it.  I am that person too at times.  I certainly was that person when I first got Facebook, even through my college years.  You will still find Facebook posts from me that have nothing to do with anyone but me, and really no one needs to know.  Who needs to know that I’m eating the most amazing hummus right now (however in my defense, this is a big deal because you can’t find hummus just everywhere, this was really more of a public service announcement than a blow by blow on my dietary habits)?

So on facebook two days ago my newsfeed was filled with a couple of things, articles about the Tia Tamera racism business (which is actually pretty interesting), Justin Bieber’s craziness, and the regular randomness.  But this picture stood out to me.

1525295_10152190194673552_1324422513_nThere is nothing fundamentally wrong with this photo.  This is sort of your typical facebook discourse right?

I’ve got to admit, it kind of made me furious.

And still as I’m looking at it in this post, it’s making me kind of angry.

Do you know what’s happening where I am right now?  Protesters have taken over 7 regional (kind of like governor’s offices) offices at last check.  7 people (6 protesters and 1 cop) have died in the conflict happening in Kiev.  News stations in The States are saying it’s all about the EU and it’s all infighting, and in general are uninformed (which brings up a very important point that I’ve said before, but can’t help but do, DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS).  I have friends going to Kiev to participate in rallies and protests.  Folks in L’viv, where I live, are stocking up supplies “preparing for the war,” as one of our folks put it.

I asked a girl if she was coming to our conference this weekend and she responded, “I have to go work the barricades, sorry.”  This is what’s going on here.  People in this tiny country, are here fighting for a free and deomcratic Ukraine.  They are fighting to be heard by the West, so that the West can lend some assistance, in the form of sanctions, to help affect change in their country.  Ukrainians are standing in squares singing and speaking from places of hope and love of country, and they want to be able to live in a country that offers opportunity and the ability to peacefully gather and speak their minds.

This is what’s going on in my world.

And when I look at this photo on facebook, I am pissed.  Now, I love this person that posted it.  And I get it.  It’s facebook.  What in the world else are you going to post?  But folks, real talk, can we use facebook for good?  Can we use facebook to raise awareness, and have good and informed conversations about the world?  Can we share knowledge and love for the world?

Ukrainians have been using social media to organize and get the word out, and there have been some great articles about how social media has transformed this movement in comparison to the Orange Revolution in 2004.

This picture is about toilet paper.  It really doesn’t get much more trivial than that.  I mean seriously, who gives a flying flip about what way your toilet paper roll sits in it’s holder?

My world, my reality, isn’t the only one who has no room to care about your toilet paper debate.  Folks who have lost everything in The Phillipines due to a tsunami, folks who are fighting for their rights as immigrant workers in Hong Kong, folks who work hard all day to make ends meet and sometimes don’t make it, these people don’t care.  People dying of famine and war all over the world, they Do Not Care.

The problem is, is that as much as these groups don’t care about toilet paper, folks in position to help and offer some sort of relief to populations all over the world, and in The States, these folks probably don’t care about these other problems either.  They want to know, if we help you what can you do for us (I’m telling you the comment section is not your friend).  What’s in it for us if we offer sanctions?  Dude, how does it hurt you if you do?  And for those that want to help, they either A) don’t know how to or B) aren’t properly informed about the issues.

And if we filled our social networks with stories of real people, of real situations, of things that we can stand to have a little awareness of, how would that change our world?  How does it change things if all we see all day is world news, and local news of things that we can change, of ways we can be aware and help?  Not just on Sundays.  Not just on Christmas.  Not just when you’re realizing your mortality, or when it effects you personally.

I know that the things going on in the world, aren’t necessarily filled with puppies, bubbles, and rainbows.  But the reality is, is that the world never will be filled entirely with that kind of fluff.  There are stories out there of love and happiness, and we should be paying them heed to.  I don’t want us to just focus on the injustice in the world, but we’re not shining a light on it and are only filling our minds with ridiculous things like the “war on Christmas” what good are we doing for ourselves and for the world?

Social media can be a driver of that.  Think of how much time you spend on facebook or twitter or blogs.  Think about the scope of your reach on any of these networks.  Think of how many people you could inform, think of how many people could inform you.  Think about those effects on our world.  No harm can come from being more informed.  No harm can come from challenging ourselves to know more and do more.

And though no harm comes from the great toilet paper debate, I ask you, what good comes of it?

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