Is Social Media Ripping Apart Our Society?

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Regardless of what your opinion is on social media you can’t deny that social media has had a significant impact on our society (and some of it is very good). But like anything in life it can be used for purposes for which it was not originally intended. I read an article this morning about Chamath Palihapitiya, who is a former Facebook executive that expresses “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. While I am not advocating that everyone quit all social media cold turkey, I do think we all need to seriously re-visit exactly what it is we hope to get out of our involvement with social media and make sure we are really getting that out of it. I think in most cases social media is using us and not the other way around. It is also re-conditioning us to “socialize” in a very different way and in my opinion it is resulting is a society that is much less tolerable of other’s opinions and views.

I have almost completely weened myself off of social media. Between trying to keep up with my immediate family, having a very busy work and travel schedule and then doing all of the other things I enjoying doing outside of family and work life I just don’t have time to spend online on social media. It is not one of my priorities. But I think that is the biggest danger with social media. There is pressure from friends and family to active on social media and then once you do engage you are sucked into it and spending a lot more time than you intended (or really have to spend).

One of the things I have been doing more of since I have severly limited my time reading online news and social media is reading. And by reading I don’t mean reading things online, I mean books. One of the books I am reading now is a biography called Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. What is ironic about Benjamin Franklin is that he practically invented satirical news pieces like many of the funny attention grabbing headlines we all see come across our social media feeds. But unlike many of us he was also very active in his local community starting up local organizations, building a newspaper empire and eventually becoming an inventor and a founding father of our country. I’m only a fraction of the way through the book, but what is striking to me so far about the life of Benjamin Franklin is that he got involved. In today’s society “getting involved” can also be mistaken for dropping nasty and hateful comments on a few online news articles (anonymously of course) but that is not what our society needs. Human beings still need in-person interactions and the invention of social media threatens the very social fabric of our world by trying to substitute real social interactions with these brief online connections. I see it resulting in a more detached and less tolerant and less open-minded society. But don’t just read my two-cents, watch the video below of Chamath Palihapitiya talking to group of MBA students below and form your own opinion. If you are curious about all the books I am reading check out the Reading List page here on this blog. I am keeping it updated with books I am currently reading and books I have recently read.

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