Back on Tuesday I was in Columbia for a school presentation and I was asked a most curious question in, "Do you like social media?" I fumbled about for a bit trying to answer (I call this practicing for my political career by answering questions without actually answering any thing) but what I had to do was to restrain my answer. I gave a bit of an answer but here, in full, is what I wanted to say.
First, I will say that I did like social media and before you cite the hypocrisy in my answer I will say that social media, now, is a necessary... I'm not going to go to the extent of evil but for what I do I very much utilize Facebook as the primary means of distribution for my blog and unless you come here daily or have subscribed via e-mail you wouldn't know when a new post was up.
So why the change? Why did I go from liking it in the past to now having some qualms about it? First, do you remember when Facebook and the like was about you? It was your pictures, your thoughts, your words and now just scroll through the news feed, if you are a member of Facebook, and see just how much personal original content there is. There may be some but it's nominal compared to what it was, say, just four years ago. Gone are the days of being able to see what each person is up to and now it's a much more... militant place.
Regardless of the cause, story, or what have you the level of angst, anger, and downright meanness is rife. Lost now are pictures of where a certain friend may be and replaced are these memes with either Willy Wonka or some other historical figure with a quote that may or may not be substantiated or a graph or statistic intentionally misrepresented just to get people to share and comment on it. Where did social media go and why was it replaced with social mayhem?
Another aspect I've noticed, and I mentioned this to the student that asked me this question, is that from the meme and the 10 second videos that become ever so viral the attention span of the average user, I'd estimate, has been slashed. I feel blogs will quickly become obsolete unless one is writing on a highly politicized or controversial topic that will anger 50% of the population and make the other 50% happy. I feel high quality videos will still have their place (which is why I'm going to have to up my game for season two of Asperger Insights) but in a place of instant gratification and, well, instant anger it's hard to get noticed.
A take away from the previous sentence is the 50%; with each passing week the social media landscape becomes more and more hostile. I rarely post anything outside of my blog or a picture from a race track I'm at but when I scroll through and look at people's comments I'm, well, I'm scared. Yes, I'm scared because the tension in the world is quite high and people's ability to so quickly say, "you said you like X therefore I'm defriending you because I like Y." What happened to civility? What happened to middle ground? What has changed in our world that an online conversation is now something to be avoided because it will quickly escalate to vulgar name calling?
I realize each person is there own person. I've carved out this little place on the other side of the wall that I share my thoughts, stories, and the journey of my life but I'm not going to bombard you with memes that will try and sway your point of view. If you disagree with anything I've said in 1,310 blog posts that's fine and I'm going to stay that way. However, I fear what the coming wasteland may look like as people get more and more brazen in their ability to call people the nastiest of names if they disagree with their standpoint.
Now, to tie this into my blog, how does this influence the autism spectrum? Even on that front on Facebook pages the conversations can quickly turn abrasive and this does the overall cause no good at all. There are so many dissenting voices, so many people that opine what autism is, or isn't, or what to say, or what not to say and perhaps these are things that could and should be debated, but from the downturn in the apparent civility of the online landscape it rarely turns into a debate and quickly turns nasty. Why is this important? The main reason is for those that are being introduced to the autism spectrum today; today there will be parents that get the news and will turn online for answers and if they stumble on the wrong comments on a Facebook post then, well, they may become highly confused and, perhaps, may just give up on the diagnosis.
This isn't to say ALL pages are bad and ALL comments turn into a name calling affair, but at some point I hope people go back and look at what they said and the tones they used. I'm not going to stop using social media as a means to make my voice heard but I'm stuck in my ways; I'm not going to create a meme that will get 50% of people riled up and 50% of people backing me. I'm not going to make a meme pushing an agenda I want to push. I will continue to share my blogs and my words and as fast as the internet is evolving maybe this makes me a bit of a dinosaur, but I'm okay with that and whether blogs thrive or die I'll still be here, in my own little corner, trying to be as professional and as civil as possible in a world that, if comments on any news story on any web page currently would seem, is losing it far too quickly.