Why I Waste Time on Social Media

Posted by on Mar 11, 2020 in Unmowed Blog | 1 comment

Timewaster? Yep? Silly rumors and fake news? Sure. Dumb cat videos? Well, I’ll confess I secretly love cat videos. But still, I really should get off Facebook and Twitter and do something worthwhile.

And yet. You could say social media is overloaded with fearmongering idiots and angry kooks and dangerous misinformation. And you’d be right. But if I get completely off social media, I leave the conversation. I lose my chance to pipe up and get my two cents in.

Case in point: a thing was making the rounds on Facebook, a graphic showing the salaries of CEOs of various charities and recommending which charities to donate to during the holidays. Apparently the CEOs of Ronald McDonald House get no salary at all, while the CEO of Goodwill gets a big one.

Hm. Whether or not this is actually true, it’s going to be seen by a lot of people. Seeing this post gave me the opportunity to speak up. Yes, the CEO of Ronald McDonald House may very well be a true philanthropist, I commented. But let’s not forget that McDonald’s is a major rapist of the environment, clearcutting rainforests to raise cattle, which contributes massively to climate change. Not to mention Big Macs making the whole world fatter.

I got a chance to make that point. Hopefully a few people saw it. In these contentious days, it’s important for us all to speak up, call out lies, point out illogic and hypocrisy.

There is, of course, the danger of being a “slacktivist”—merely liking posts and then leaving it at that, calling myself an activist because I shared a cartoon. So among the cat videos, I look for the good stuff: the creative ideas, the calls to action. Social media can connect fearmongering Nazis very effectively–but it can also connect reasonable people. I discovered Indivisible’s amazing letter-writing campaign to swing states from Facebook. I’ve learned about voting rights from tweets by the League of Women Voters.

And the 2017 Women’s March was born from a single Facebook post, growing literally overnight into an event that inspired millions. Don’t underestimate the power of social media, for evil–and also for good.

Yes, sometimes it’s tempting to say, ah, it’s all a load of nonsense and skip social media altogether. But in today’s world people of good will all need to speak up. Speak up, and stand up for truth and reason, in any way we can.

One Comment

  1. Sanchez – at 81 I started “in the garden” column in the local newspaper at request of the owner editor!

    So many of your writing comments I have heard in my head! So happy to see them in writing. Are you related to Henry Thoreau?

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