One of the things I’m pretty grateful for is technology and especially social media. Sure, criticizing social media is a popular bandwagon right now. Especially if criticism can be extended to include the Millennial, Y, and, soon it will be Z. Previous generations criticized the Baby Boomers when they were in their 20’s and the same thing happened to Generation X, so I take it with a grain of salt. It’s easy to criticize 20-somethings.

As for social media, there’s a lot of criticism; some of it is fair, but some of it is also exaggerated, and the result of too many people with very faulty memories and probably some less than desirable personality quirks that they would prefer nobody ever brings up. Better to pick on kids who don’t know any better than look at themselves and face their own issues;  miserable people are miserable, and like to make others miserable.

No, really…Social Media for all of its faults, does provide a means of balancing the messages people get offline, much of which can be “well-meaning” but utterly negative. One can’t take back such things though the recipient may choose to “forget”. But online, the recipient can also delete “well-meaning” negativity and that can provide such people a useful wake up call about their own nasty behavior.

I try to skip rose colored glasses and just acknowledge  that in all truth, the grass was not at all greener on the other side of 25 years ago. And I am grateful for the fact that social media exists and most people are using it. It means that people have more choices in who to communicate with; and how. They are no longer forced to listen solely to the dysfunctional and soul destroying criticism of toxic people around them.

I am not sure if such people really fail at everything in life but they certainly have a way of making other people want to escape and avoid them.

Don’t get me wrong, toxic people are all over social media too; but social media has an off button, a volume control including a mute button and a means of doing something we don’t have the luxury of doing when its people in our physical space. We can block and we can delete; in short, we can set much needed boundaries on abusive people while social media continues to serve useful functions for mass communications.

As someone who grew up in South Florida with the yearly threat or reality of hurricanes, I came to appreciate the reach of social media sites during emergencies. I remember when one had to make arrangements ahead of time with an out-of-state family member or friend, by landline, who would have a check list of who to contact once we were able to reach them. That could take days or weeks depending on the situation.

Social media is only as useful as the infrastructure in the area, but there is still a significant difference in the ability to quickly communicate in life-threatening situations thanks to social media compared to 25 years ago. Before we were reliant on emergency television and radio broadcasts; today, we have emergency cell phone text, landline recorded calls, Twitter and Facebook.

As someone who knows what it was really like before the internet, computers, smart phones and social media, life wasn’t less busy; less complicated, less full of bullshit. People didn’t get along better with others, conversations certainly weren’t deeper and more meaningful just because you could look someone in the eye. People were not less corrupt or more honest. When you moved away, you lost touch with people; forever.

Things people say on the internet today are the same things people said to each other 25 years or more ago. Social media doesn’t make us more or less tolerant of each other, it doesn’t make us more or less polite, or more or less a bully. What it does tend to do is let us leave a lot more evidence; text can last for years while voices and memories fade. It’s easier to excuse abusiveness when it’s not in print for the world to see.

I suspect the people who would prefer everyone else get off social media, put their smart phones away etc., are really just wishing they could go back to a world where the people they criticize and push around have no support from other people to counteract their viciousness. They wish they could go back to a world where technology isn’t around as much, catching them in the act, recording them, and providing more witnesses.

And for that I am very grateful. Have a great day and thanks for reading!