Being confined all day lends itself to spending even more time online than we normally do, and since I’m writing a book on social media, I’ve been justifying my excessive web surfing as research. This morning, I came across a video of a man barking at a dog. Yes, you read that correctly. And the guy was barking with so much rage that the dog was cowering in the corner. For a moment I actually thought it was funny. But then I wondered, who does that to an innocent animal, and why did I laugh? I was disgusted by my own reaction. Is this our new version of entertainment? Is this what social media is doing to my brain? To all of our brains?
Other than this moment in time of Coronavirus kindness, every time I go onto my social media feeds it seems like more and more people have gotten lost in their rage. Rage-tweeting and tweetstorms are actually considered fairly normal. We don’t call the police when we see someone going ballistic on social media, but if someone was standing outside your house screaming about killing you or your neighbors, no doubt you would pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1. So why is any of this behavior considered normal on social media? We lose our tempers the moment someone says something different than what we think or feel. Have we lost all sense of empathy, patience or love toward everyone who feels or thinks differently than we do? And more importantly, how does all of this play out and where does it end? Are we ever going to initiate steps to change our direction or are we just going to continue becoming more hostile until we completely spiral out of control?
I started asking these questions of myself several years ago, and I did not like the answers. That is when I started to write my book. Having worked in social media for many years, I realized I was a part of the problem. There was nothing intentionally nefarious about my work or the companies I worked for, but the larger impact of how social media technology was changing our emotional well-being never occurred to me. Looking back on it now it is easy to see how social media, when mixed with ambition and greed, conspires against all of us for the sake of corporate profits. That is not to say every technologist or every social media company is evil. Far from it. There are many wonderful people with great intentions working in social media, but like any business, when valuation or return on investment is the primary objective, things can go astray. But, instead of dwelling on the specifics of who did what or trying to place blame on any of the major social media platforms, I am using this blog post create awareness of how social media has subliminally manipulated our behavior, and to provoke a conversation about love.
In other posts I will share true stories of my work with famous celebrities which illustrate how social media has played a large part in closing us off from our hearts. Hopefully, each post offers ideas on how we can alter our current direction by opening ourselves up to the higher calling…love. Because at the end of the day it is not social media, but our lack of love that has created our current state of anger and hostility. Technology merely facilitates what is in our minds and hearts.