Confession: As soon as someone starts complaining about social media, I start tuning them out.
This is a problem. I realize that. They could still have valuable insights and wisdom that I could learn from (maybe on this topic, maybe on other topics). And discounting everything they have to say is unkind on my part. I’m trying to work on it. At times more successfully than at other times…
Still. Allow me to explain a bit.
My close friends all live at least somewhat far away. Most of them do not even live in the same state as I do. I can’t randomly drop by for an hour to chat. I can’t give – and receive – regular hugs. I can’t help out when they’re sick.
But chatting on Facebook (and texting, though that’s not the focus of this post) lets me communicate regularly anyway. I can at least listen when a friend has a bad day. I can hear about the everyday sorts of events that happen in their lives. I can share things that I think will make them laugh.
These are all ways of reminding each other, “Hey. I love you. I care about what’s happening in your life. I want to spend time and energy on you even though I’m not around.”
And if you think these ways of communicating are inherently shallow, I will fight you. You will win, because I am not skilled at any sort of fighting, but you will not change my mind. Some of the most intimate conversations I have had with friends have happened over the internet.
So you see, when someone starts talking about how social media is useless, or only ever drives people apart, or is always harmful, I don’t simply disagree; they are discounting an incredibly important portion of my life. And since they are not taking my treasured relationships – and, by extension, me – seriously, it becomes difficult to take them seriously.
This mostly (not exclusively, but mostly) seems to happen with people older than I am talking to younger generations about the dangers of social media. The thing is, I would venture to guess that almost every one of those younger people who use social media regularly would agree that it has its problems and dangers (as does every other method of communication; it’s like all the people communicating are flawed human beings who sin and make mistakes in every area of their lives, imagine that…).
So here is my point: Disparaging social media is likely to simply alienate a large portion of the younger generations instead of creating an atmosphere where they might listen to what you have to say. That’s a problem on their part, yes, but the failure to respect a valuable part of their lives is also a problem. So, no matter your age, if you wish to successfully communicate with those in the younger generations, this is an unwise – and unkind – way to go about it.