Social Media: A parable

In the middle of a city square was a massive water fountain where citizens would throw spare change on their daily commutes, during lunch periods, and late in the evening during causal strolls through the city.

Overtime, the sum of the coins resembled a fair amount of money. The local government considered cashing in the coins to repair streets or to build an arena for a local sports team. In the end, the local leaders decided to allow the coins to be made into a mosaic for the bottom of the fountain, a symbol of solidarity of their city. The message was clear: the sum of the parts of our community, though diverse, creates a beautiful picture. Local leaders discovered that the mosaic attracted more citizens to the location. They eventually built a park around the fountain in order to accommodate the crowds.

One afternoon, a group decided to put a volleyball net around the fountain in order to play pool volleyball. That group enjoyed the cool water on the hot day and enjoyed their time together. The mosaic, however, eventually had its luster scrubbed way because of the trampling of the group member’s feet. The waves of the water created by the volleyball game did not allow any of the others to see the mosaic, the image of solidarity and community that it was intended to portray.

To those who have ears and will care to listen.

 

Social Media is at the heart of interactions in our world today. It has become the main channel of communication for the developed world. With minimal cost, one can communicate with more people, in more locations, more rapidly than ever before. Social media is altering the way we think about communication and the way we think of one another. Any one, at any time, can post nearly whatever to the whole world to view, read, and consider.

My observation is that social media outlets (Facebook in particular) can be possessed with activity that is awkward and antithetical to the ethos of the genesis of social media. What used to be a common (virtual) space for people to connect and share ordinary (perhaps boring) things is now an outlet for people to sound-off, vent, to post myopic, critical one-liners, absurd reposts, bumper-sticker logic, and polarizing, hoax-filled, fear-mongering data.

Guilty as charged.

I miss the days when my Facebook timeline was filled with the latest news about what someone’s cat managed to step on the remote and erase all of their recordings from their DVR, or how many dirty diapers my friend’s newborn piled up that day, or how one of my friends were able to smuggle in a extra-large pizza into the latest Blockbuster film. I’d take those days over the disappointing drudgery of checking Facebook today.  Does anyone else have Snopes.com on the ready in order to sort out the silliness that possess Facebook today?

So, I propose a viral movement, an occupying of Facebook with ten thousand boring, silly posts instead of the polarizing, unhealthy use of Facebook. Let’s bring back the cat stories, the picture of someone’s Prius odometer that just reached 200,000 miles, a picture of my friend posing with his grandpa who just beat cancer, a video of my friend’s kids running in the snow without a t-shirt, or an update about how our kids made the principal’s honor role for the first time, etc.

Perhaps we can have the mosaic back.

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