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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Social Media Balancing Act

Okay, guys.  I'll be getting to the WHO AM I WEDNESDAY feature in just a few seconds, but before I do that, I want to get serious for just a second.

As many of you are well aware by now, a pair of twin tornadoes touched down in the middle of the small community of Pilger, Nebraska. The tornadoes were extremely powerful and caused a lot of damage.  It is estimated that over three-quarters of the entire community was wiped out.  Two people are confirmed dead and many others are injured.

Now, you might be wondering why I am talking about this here when I don't live anywhere near Nebraska.  Well, I believe in the concept of paying it forward.  And as it turns out, I know someone who while not directly in the path of the tornado, knew lots of people who were.  Believe me when I tell you that the area that was hardest hit is completely devastated and in need of serious emergency assistance so that they can begin to rebuild.

So, I've decided that I will be using this blog to try and help out because I believe in the power of communities helping communities.

If you click on THIS LINK, it will take you to a donation page where you can donate a minimum of ten dollars to the Pilger, Nebraska fund.  The money will help provide displaced residents with assistance in getting back up on their feet as well as rebuilding the community.  I know that any American readers will be able to use the site without any problems.  I don't know for sure about outside of America, but I attempted to give a donation myself, so I will keep you posted.  I figure that if I post this link on a public blog such as this one, it may make a small difference.  

Also, for those of you who happen to live in the same area that I do, I'll also post a link to this FACEBOOK GROUP.  This group is a donation page in which people can donate cash, furniture, and clothing items to several people who lost everything in a Father's Day fire.  If you live in Leeds-Grenville county in Ontario, do bookmark this page, as I'm sure that they could use all the help they can get to rebuild their lives as well.

(And as I type this, it appears as though Ontario, Canada is experiencing tornado warnings and possible storm damage.  I'll keep you posted on this development as well.)

But you know, just going back to the opening of this blog entry, I have to say that seeing people sharing links to fundraising efforts, or just using the power of social media to check and see if their friends and relatives are me, this gives me hope that social media can be used for good.  After all, if social media can be a tool that brings people together for brainstorming sessions, and coming up with ways to build each other up, I'm all for it.

But lately I've been asking keeping a social media profile really worth it in the long run? 

I mean, yes, I've given off a major plus for social media.  It allows us to get connected with the news of the world in microseconds, and it allows us to help others who really need assistance.  And, granted, I'll admit that as someone who loves to give back to other people, these are a couple of reasons why I've kept a profile on social media.

I also think that social media is also useful when it comes to promoting self-projects.  After all, my blog wouldn't be read if I didn't post the links on both Facebook and Google+ (so help me, I don't like Twitter and can't figure out how the heck Instagram or Snapchat works).

So, why am I having some doubts when it comes to the concept of social media? be honest with you, it has to do with the idea of real life colliding with online life - as bizarre as it may sound.

I see confusion all over your faces, so I'll clarify.  In life, we all have our own personal struggles when it comes to stress management, and in life, we also have to do what that Monty Python song states...let's see...what was that song telling us to do again?

Oh, yes.  Always look on the bright side of life.  That's right.

You know, that's an attitude that I really try to live by.  It was an attitude that I never really practiced during my teenage years, and now that I'm a little bit older, I guess I just decided that I wasn't going to let negativity turn me into a Negative Nellie any longer. 

I don't know about any of you reading this right now, but have you noticed that it seems to be easier to change your mood from good to bad than it is the other way around?  I know that in my case, I found that to be incredibly true.  Growing up, I can remember very vividly having days in which I felt really great and I was having a wonderful time...and then in a split second, those good times were destroyed by someone else's negative thoughts, or mean behaviour, and from there it took a really long time to get back to the high that I was previously feeling.  It's funny how that works, you know?  It takes a long time to become happy again after feeling sad or angry, but it only takes seconds to be angry or sad after being happy.  At least, that's what my experience was like anyway.

Well, the same holds true on social media gathering sites as well.  Sometimes you can log on feeling like nothing will bring you down...and by the end of your Internet browsing session, you feel so angry that you want to kick someone in their Cocoa Puffs. 

Okay, maybe that's a little extreme, but you get the picture.

I guess it's a bit frustrating to try and post happy things on social media when you have a group of people who will respond to them with flippancy, nonchalance and just plain meanness.  I'm a fan of sarcasm as much as anybody else, but there's a time and a place for it.  And sometimes when you've done something that you're really proud of, whether it be doing a twenty mile jog, or proposing to 'the one', or baking the perfect chocolate cake with coconut sprinkles, it can be a real drag to have some of the people you've trusted to let onto your page respond with sarcasm or mean comments. 

I also find it really annoying when you post a status update or a video, or a picture, and suddenly be treated as if you're being interrogated in a prison holding cell, or that you're being interviewed by Barbara Walters - the television personality known for making her guests cry at the drop of a hat.  If I wanted to play Twenty Questions, I'd buy one of those portable Twenty Questions electronic games that they sell at toy stores.  And, even so, I wouldn't do it because I hate that bloody game!

I mean, unless I knew the person well enough to joke around with them, I wouldn't engage in such activity on social media.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It's the Golden Rule, they say.  I find it interesting that some people seem to have that Golden Rule stenciled onto iron pyrite.

Fool's Gold, if you will.

And, I suppose another thing that I dislike about Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites is the fact that people in general just seem to be in a grouchy mood, and therefore want the world to know about it.  And, we're all guilty of doing this...myself included.  But I see so many people who have jumped on the "I WANT A DISLIKE BUTTON ON FACEBOOK" bandwagon that I sometimes wonder if it's in a person's nature to be so negative that they aren't happy unless everyone around them is feeling the same way. 

As far as I'm concerned, I'm okay with just having a like button - well, that is when you use it correctly.  Somehow, people liking the fact that someone was cheated on by their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse just gives me the creeps.  Can anybody say Schadenfreude? 

But implementing a dislike button?  Let's avoid opening up that can of worms.  For starters, nobody likes having their thoughts or pictures branded with a dislike button.  I know I sure don't.  If there's something on Facebook that I don't like, all you have to do is hide it from your News Feed.  That way, nobody gets their feelings hurt, and everyone can go on their merry little way. 

But a dislike button - in the wrong hands - can be used as a weapon of mass social media destruction.  If bullies got their hands on dislike buttons, they could use them to really harass their victims.  And if everyone got into the act, the dislike button could hurt just as much as being called names in the playground.  After all, when it comes to bullies, some of them aren't happy unless they overdo it.  Take it from someone who knows what it is like to be on the receiving end one too many times.

So, as far as I'm concerned...


But, you know...when I look back on the things I don't like about social's not so many.  When I first started off this piece, I was expecting to have several pages detailing the horrors and evils of social media...and yet, my list only amounts to a few things.  And, the things that I've listed are quite easy to deal with.  Hiding things from your news feed that you don't like, using things like the "like button" the right way.  I guess in some extreme cases, if you're second guessing a friendship that you've made on Facebook, you can always hide them from your news feed, or if you really can't tolerate them, unfriend or block them from seeing your stuff.  Out of sight, out of mind, I always say. 

For every bad thing that social media has said about it, there's a lot of good things too.  You can connect with people from all over the world in just seconds.  You can share your thoughts with people in an open forum on a variety of specialized groups.  And, you have this awesome ability to make a difference in the world by setting up groups that do fundraising efforts, or offer friendly support to people who are going through something difficult. 

So, you see, there's good to be found as well.

But I also believe that everyone needs a little bit of a break from social media every now and again.  I know people who leave Facebook for three months or so and come back completely refreshed and with a new outlook on life. 

Actually, that doesn't sound so bad.  A social media vacation.  

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