I may have already told you this, but I recently celebrated being “off” of Facebook for six months. I have not gone on the app since late December of 2022. As an early adopter and consistent user, this was a big switch.
I mention this because many of us seem to be struggling with a related conundrum – watching too much cable news, reading too many newspaper articles and op-ed pieces or worst of all, engaging in acrimonious debates on social media platforms. The conundrum exists because while we want to stay current, keeping a judicious eye on some very serious issues at home and abroad, we are feeling anxious, sad or angry a lot. And God knows none of us are convincing other people to change their political positions!
I think that the first thing to realize is that the media, sadly, is no longer a trusted, unallied source of information and good sense. The days of Walter Cronkite are long gone. Social media platforms ignite controversy and conflict.
And not only have these outlets separated us into right vs left – Big Media relies on fear of the other (Trump, Biden, Putin, the Supreme Court, your neighbor) to keep us glued to our phones and tvs. And – spoiler alert – this is almost always about money. They are being paid A LOT to keep YOU engaged. Whatever it takes they’re gonna do so that they keep their cushy seats and continue to get fat paychecks courtesy of advertisers. Do you think social media us about debate and information? Wrong! That’s the catnip.
Yes, it’s true that a concerned citizen needs to keep informed and debate can be healthy, but is it hurting more than helping when we are always engaged ir at one another’s throats? I would say it is hurting us.
If we give up media, we may need to fill the space it creates with something. That can be becoming engaged with an issue or a local, political race. It could be a creative pursuit. It can also be in the form or service to a non-profit. If our souls are crying out for an end to division, we can connect with tenderness to someone with whom we disagree politically. Instead of arguing about politics, we can meet them in a place of common interest.
Last night, I hung out with two eighteen year old, high school seniors ready to leave the nest. They are and move to the next exciting and, yes, scary steps. They were fun to talk with and we all learned. My point is that what occurred around that dinner table was interesting, fun and informative.
May we all find and create more of that!