Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Smartphones Don't Make Dumb People

In case you were wondering, the title of this post is pushing back against this viral video that's going around right now. And I get the point it's trying to make. I do. But here's the thing -

Social media is what you make it. 

Can we overdo it? Of course?
Can we use it to hide away from the world, isolated from actual interpersonal contact? Sure.
But we can also use it for good. It can even bring people together.

I know a married couple who met through xanga. (Do you remember xanga?!)

I have a friend in California that I met on a discussion board back in 2002. Our friendship grew through Xanga, Email, and even Facebook.

I have friends on Twitter that I hope to meet in real life one day. Friends that inspire and encourage me with their words. (They even inspire me to write!) Behind a screen or not, we are all choosing how much to let people see of our hearts, of our pain, of our mess.

And guess what, I have a ridiculous number of friends that I spend time with in person. No one would accuse me of being a social recluse. And what about the ones who live far away and we rely on various forms of social media to stay in contact in between in person visits?

And what about all the people who have met through eHarmony or some other version of online dating?
(I know several people in loving, committed, happy marriages, who met through one of those sites.)

And what about the people who are struggling so much they can barely reach out, but they manage to do so online somehow, and it keeps them going for another day.

Because there are real people on the other side of the screen.

So by all means, do not neglect your relationships with your family and friends that you have the privilege to spend time with in person. But don't demonize the technology that allows others to make meaningful connections with people as well.

Social media is what you let it be.

(Thank you Micah J. Murray for inspiring me to write this post today.)

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