I have recently exchanged a few emails with a friend (who I met via a Facebook group for a writing guild we’re both members of) about the effects of social media and whether or not we should all run from what many consider a dumpster fire situation. My social media usage drastically dropped when I started working part-time for an ad agency because I now have less time for social media. When I’m not working on copywriting projects for the agency, I’m working on my freelance copywriting gigs or book projects.
The extra distance from social media over the past couple of months has been really good for me. Social media can be a time suck, a distraction, and a source for more consumption of information than any human being needs. But while my friend and I were discussing social media usage, I was able to articulate the primary reason I will never leave social media. What keeps me there (mainly Twitter which is my social media platform of choice) is that I learn so much there from people I don't typically interact with--primarily people of color and people from other groups on the margins. I have become more compassionate and more aware of my own prejudices, and I don't ever want to give up on being exposed to those voices. And while I have relationships with people of color and people from other groups on the margins, we aren’t always able to discuss some of what comes up on Twitter. This saddens me because these essential conversations should be happening in real life. Maybe this is an indictment of who I typically hang out with and converse with. Maybe this is an indictment of our larger culture—especially the local culture here in Birmingham, Alabama where most of us walk around with smiles on our faces pretending everything is okay.
While I continue to contemplate how to better hear these voices in the course of my everyday life, I’ll keep scrolling through Twitter a couple of times every day. I’ll keep following and listening to people who aren’t like me. And I’ll hold space for the sadness that comes when I’m reminded this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
What are your thoughts on social media? Why do you stay? Why have you left?