Our Social Media Legacy

I lost a friend last year and memories of that person pulled up on my Facebook feed. Naturally I clicked over to their Facebook page to scroll through old photos and reminisce.  Our histories used to be found in heavy photo albums and shoe boxes of old photographs, but now our legacy’s are left for the entire world to preview with a single swipe.

Since the election my time on social media has decreased significantly. There is so much hate, fear and negativity--I stopped watching the news for the same reason almost 20 years ago.  

Banter on Facebook has gotten so out of hand--I’ve seen posts preaching love and inclusion, followed by a post (by that same person) hating on anyone who thinks differently than them. Grown adults are name calling online while simultaneously telling their kids to be nice on the playground.  

I feel like society is more divided than ever and tolerance for people who think differently than we do is at an all time low.

The older I get the more I realize how much grey area there is.  When I was younger I had soapboxes and boy did I stand tall and loud on them.  I thought I knew so much and I was oh so passionate.  From politics to religion my beliefs have changed drastically.  My 39 year old self would have serious conflict with my 21 year old self if we were to run into each other. And thank God! My 21 year old self was an idiot.  I’m grateful Facebook wasn’t around in my early 20’s because I'd be outspoken and offensive and I would be cringing at the “memories” that would pull up reminding me of who I used to be.  

Growing up my father was a right winged, military drill Sargent.  He's now a liberal, long haired hippie who wears a cowboy hat.  People change. Experiences and knowledge change us.  Facebook rants don't. Seriously, YOUR FACEBOOK RANTS DON'T CHANGE PEOPLE'S MINDS.  But you know what can? Having a face to face conversation with someone.  It’s too easy to be bold and cruel and insulting when a screen separates us from seeing that we've caused someone pain.  For some reason looking someone in the eye helps us hold our tongues (most of the time) and from spewing nastiness.  Is there anything worse than seeing your children hurt by someone's words? How are we any different from a school bully when we type mean things in our status bars? And when people acknowledge those cruel statements with "likes" and affirming comments, I liken that to ganging up on the picked on kid and throwing extra punches with the bully. It's so commonplace I feel we're desensitized. How many articles a day are shared with writing something as simple as, "He/She's an idiot." Yes, they probably are an idiot, but I think our casualness about those statements is rubbing off on our kids.  

I’m not naive to what is going on in the world. I’m not by any means saying we should all “play nice.” There is real evil and awfulness that we must fight against.  I think it's possible to preach, proclaim, protest and share our beliefs and opinions without demeaning, humiliating, bullying or name calling those who think or believe differently.  

Final thoughts on this topic.  If I were to pass today and my online presence was what people had left of me, what kind of legacy would I be leaving? What would my girls learn about the kind of person I was? I want to instill boldness, kindness, inclusiveness and encouragement. I pray my life AND my feeds reflect that.   

Sidebar: My intentions are never to shame.  I'm sure if I scrolled through my Facebook history I'd find plenty of posts I'm ashamed of.  My prayer is we simply think before we post and we can change how we post today.  I know our social media feeds are not our legacies, however they do represent how we are perceived.  Employers, landlords, future friends and spouses check out our feeds to learn about us...do your feeds represent you well?

Ruthy TaylorComment