Are You Sure You Want to Share That?
This election season has been exhausting. Especially on social media. I’m a political junkie on some levels so it should be fun for me but of course it is not. It’s not fun for anyone I know. No one I know whose opinions fall on either side is having fun on the internet. No one.
This morning I was reading an article that intrigued me. I don’t even recall the specifics as I write this now, but by the time I finished reading it I was looking for the share button. I stopped myself. Don’t share this, I argued with myself. It won’t help. It might even annoy some people. No one wants to read this except for a couple of people you know who agree with this angle. If anything, send it directly to them.
For all the complaints about how disconnected our society is, we sure feel compelled to share what we read/think/know/saw/consider/wonder about/ate for lunch with the world, don’t we? This moment today made me stop and think about the nature of “sharing” what we read. It’s certainly not something I grew up with. Is it something already hard-wired into my children? They don’t have social media accounts, but they are aware of mine. What does this compulsion to share say about us?
I’m fascinated by how connected we all are these days. I’m equally amazed at how many people think technology is driving wedges between people. I have no hard data to back this up, but in my experience this conclusion is mostly wrong. (You can see how scientifically I’m approaching this topic.) We may be connecting in DIFFERENT ways from what baby-boomers are used to, but we are definitely connecting.
Just last week I met up with a Twitter friend I had never met in person before. We’d bonded via social media over common writing and ministry interests. We were hosted – actually had dinner together in reality and everything – by mutual friends with whom I communicate chiefly via Facebook messenger. Through these social media platforms I’ve gotten to know people who have similar interests and beliefs as me – people I never would have met 20 years ago in rural Illinois. One of my best (long distance) friendships was born out of a friend request and my message to her – “Do you want to be my Facebook friend? Like social media pen-pals?”
When I read something I love, I share it. When I think of something funny, I share it. When I’m depressed I ask for prayers. When I’m celebrating, I post. Not only that, but I know who else is depressed or celebrating. We chat about our common “issues” or find a good laugh in a common mistake. I rarely go through and like Facebook posts methodically, but when I’m scrolling and someone is happy, I smile with them and click the thumb. It’s nice.
Today I found myself automatically wanting to share something interesting with the world. I’m glad my “friends” and “followers” share what they like too. Because of it I’ve discovered new authors, podcasts, and conversations I’m blessed by. Yes, sometimes I’m guilty of paying more attention to the articles and posts on my phone and less attention to my husband sitting next to me. But that’s not the fault of the technology I hold in my hand. That’s my fault and our layered communication issues have a history that goes way back before smartphones, trust me.
I’m not sure what community will look like for my kids when they are adults. I won’t say this doesn’t bring it’s own set of challenges, because obviously it does. But a lot of the good things in my life – including learning more about how to improve communication in my marriage – come from what I learn from my friends online.
And for that I’m thankful.
Keep sharing, friends. I’ll see you on the interwebs.
P.S. Except political stuff. I didn’t share the politically charged post today. I’ll share less politics if you do! 😉