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Never say anything that might be controversial on Facebook. It’s like the old adage for cocktail parties..don’t bring up religion or politics. And ALWAYS be positive. My friend Chris Dessi makes this case very persuasively in his successful and very worthwhile e-book “Your World Is Exploding: How Social Media Is Changing Everything – And How You Need To Change With It”. In other words, talk banalities and trivialities or relentless good news, or someone might not like it. Worse, they might “unfriend you”, or Facebook might bury your posts because they’re not popular.
OK, I get it. Since I approach social media both as anyone else would (for personal satisfaction, communication, socialization) as well as a digital media professional, I am very conflicted on this. For my professional interest in growing my “social graph” and influence, KISS is great advice. But personally, I find this depressing. I happen to be very interested in both politics and religion/spirituality – and my views are pretty eclectic. And I love to debate ideas…engage around them, examine assumptions…sometimes to the point of playing devil’s advocate. But if I indulge these proclivities, I’ll be unpopular. Result can be self-censorship (or you can say “to hell with it”, and post whatever you like and forego “friends” who can’t handle it).
But enough about me. Sociologically, and in terms of the body politic, I think it’s very sad that we’ve come to this. If you can’t discuss religion or politics (or if you do, post only what’s consistent with groupthink), and always be positive…how do we encounter new ideas and points of view? How do we learn to respect them? How do we as a society come to grips with serious problems (economy, education, healthcare, ideological domination of politics, etc)? As a society, immersed as we are in celebrity culture, entertainment, etc., have we completely lost the ability to be serious?
Social media is a platform… a box in the corner of the public square you can stand on and say whatever you choose. Do you choose to be “safe”, innocuous and entertaining, or do you sometimes want to provoke real thought and engage in a real discussion? Social media as a platform does not innately favor either approach…it is the peopleware that makes those determinations. Social Media can be a catalyst for growth in human knowledge and consciousness, or it can accelerate the dumbing down of our culture. I hope we can keep an open mind about these issues. And please don’t unfriend me. Pretty please? Oh look – a squirrel on waterskis!