Social Media are used for many purposes. They are used to keep in touch with friends and family. By corporations they are used as a Capitalist tool to advertise and woo customers. News services use them as print versions become less desirable. Politicians use them for propaganda. To paraphrase Plato, as in a democracy, any ass may troll social media and bray any opinion or empty sound it likes. As a form of genuine communication or thoughtful commentary most social media fail.
The social network most under scrutiny today is Facebook. In the 10 years I have used it, it has provided me most importantly with re-establishing contact with dear friends. It has also helped create or sustain new friendships. In those respects alone I think FB has been of great value. My life became richer as I think those of my friends have as well.
Yet there is also a dark side and a mediocre side to FB. At its worst, it allows dogma and misunderstanding to dominate many threads of conversation. It is as likely to create fights or anger as to bring a higher harmony, learning, or a better perspective. False information also makes things worse since many people do not examine their sources, or look for reliable sources, looking instead for confirmation of what they already believe. We get suckered into points of view that lead to hate or prejudice rather than understanding or empathy.
As a lifelong philosopher and lover of all the arts, I find thoughtless posts and cute pictures rather monotonous. Photographs of travel are fine for friends or family, and may teach us about other places. Yet, the way many people push the "Don't worry, Be Happy" attitude is to me mindless at best, and immoral when it ignores the suffering and needless destruction going on globally. It is the selfish, privileged attitude of those with money who live in comfort. It is a cruel response to environmental damage killing humans and wildlife alike. When FB perpetuates this response and self absorption it moves toward evil. That does not make me angry; it makes me sad, and more pessimistic about our future-- ecologically, politically, and morally.
This blog service offers a place for shared introspection and reflection on how we use the internet. It allows us to do more than make a brief comment or reaction to a comment. It gives the opportunity to look at the values we hold, to ask what we hold dear, what matters most to us, rather than how we can impress others with our trips, our animals, our possessions, and our appearance. Obsession with how we appear to others may be the most despicable and absurd aspect of social media, yet it is almost impossible not to give into it at times.
Descartes and his Cogito, "I think therefore I am," take on another level of meaning in the wired/wireless world of the 21st Century. Serious thinking may also be an endangered species.