The other day I had coffee with Patrick who hates social media.
“Everything, EVERYTHING is a contentious issue online. Here, pick something.”
So I picked puppies because in life choosing ‘puppies’ when ‘puppies’ exists as an option is just something I swore to 7 year old me that I would always do.
And Patrick showed me the hate.
It was true, even around the topic of how cute someone’s dog was, there were such comments as:
“Fake. This was posted yesterday on reddit.”
“This dog’s life is 27% shorter then (yes it was a statistic, with ‘then’ instead of ‘than’) the average dog.”
So I took my phone out and I commented too:
Your dog is cute! [dog emoji]
Then Patrick and I went back to talking about negativity online – how giving everyone a microphone and the mask of anonymity has been amazing in when they were granted separately, but together can be so rotten.
Patrick has been happier since he quit social media in 2015 but he’s also been a shittier friend.
For every hour he saved from mindlessly scrolling through a feed, he forgot a birthday, he missed plans he had committed to and he fell out of the loop. Despite many of us trying to reach out to him in different, sometimes even non-telephonic ways, he became a shittier friend (so much so that he was 25 minutes late to this coffee and didn’t even bother to text. Ass.)
And we argued constructively for about 15 minutes or so about whether or not social media and connectivity makes the world a better place. And there were fantastic points on both sides. Especially mine. Kidding.
That’s when my phone screen lit up with 1 new notification.
On the picture I had complimented the dog was a guy reminding me that the owner had a boyfriend………….
When I originally wrote this post, this is where it ended.
But I came back to it because I think it’s important to note that I will always compliment puppies on Instagram, and congratulate LinkedIn connections on accepting new and exciting positions, wishing Facebook friends on their birthdays, tweeting kudos to companies that have impressed me with their #customerservice, and snapping my family in Australia because I miss them and it’s so good to hear their voices.
Because I think blaming social media is like blaming the smoking gun instead the gun-holder. These are all tools that we’ve been given and what we choose to do with this awesome power is entirely up to us. So the next time someone tells you that your ‘like’ is evil, just do what I do: smile and think of the puppies on Instagram.