Social media and the online world is a funny, sometimes even fickle thing. People whom you’ve considered acquaintances, dared to deem friends, and a community you believed to be supportive and encouraging can all be uprooted in a moment. If you let it.
I’m a huge advocate for social media because I’ve witnessed its benefits and successes firsthand. By laying the foundation for a strong community, social media builds upon conversation and connections to make the world seem smaller, to share news and stories, to report on successes and failures so that we can all feel that familiar pride or sympathy, but most importantly, so we can learn.
I always thought of social media as a relatively safe place — the blog was a platform for personal growth while gaining new perspectives and valued insight; Facebook was a way to connect and reconnect; and Twitter…Twitter is somewhat of a magical world wherein you can converse, debate, share information, share a part of yourself. Twitter is the tie that binds those spread across various locales together, connecting us with another human being and deepening that bond. Some may say it’s superficial, and taking a look at the trending topics and the communities that some choose to build, that point is certainly valid. But these platforms are always what you make of them, and I have seen extraordinary connections being made as we peel back layer after layer and get to know each other as neighbors, as world-wide colleagues, as potential friends.
With social media, specifically Twitter as that platform, I have set that foundation and have subsequently built and become a part of such a strong community, filled with good, genuine, and generous people, whom I am honored to have met when it otherwise may not have been possible, many of whom have become real-life friends. I’m proud of this community, this network, because of those who work hard to make it worthwhile, engaging in conversation and valuable debate that offer perspectives and insight, that allow you to change and grow and become an overall better person.
Unfortunately, there are some who willingly take advantage of that, who infiltrate the community and poison the good, perhaps only because they are feeling vindictive and calculating and maybe even unreasonably, unnecessarily threatened. Perhaps they truly, innocently misunderstand, but more often than not, as I’ve recently learned, there are those who wish to do more harm than good for no perceivable reason other than the fact that they are petty and callous. Yes, there are some people in this world who would rather remain seated behind the cloaked safety of the internet and place judgment on others, make faulty assumptions, and wreak upset on a life rather than actively communicate concern, engage in discussion, and connect with or get to know the person behind the name.
I’ve been told before that I can be too trusting of people, too naive. I completely agree. It’s almost to a fault. I like to believe that people are generally good, that they have given the world a reason to have faith in them and that they will prove the world right. I’ve recently been proven wrong, and through trusting blindly I have been affected and am deeply disappointed and saddened, if not a bit unclear and confused by the motivations behind the actions.
And yet, even still, I have found that one person cannot shake my belief in people, and it certainly cannot shake my belief in myself. If anything, it is making me stronger, and them seem a little weaker.
I believe in social media and I advocate for it every chance I get. It is a strong community like any other, where @names are house numbers and @replies are the doorbells, introducing potential friends and welcoming conversation and connections. My faith in this platform and my belief in this community is stronger than ever. As such, my faith and belief in myself remains unwavering.
Can you say the same?