Social media has in many ways become the town center; where we all gather to see who else is there and what’s going on… to share parts of our lives and keep track of our loved ones.
There’s also a dark aspect to social media. It can be a forum for dwelling on misery. It invites debate but incites drama. It allows sarcasm to seem meaningful. And most of all, it is a champion of distraction.
The latest American Presidential election caused an unprecedented ripple in social media. It brought forth how ill-equipped the format has been when it comes to dealing with deep, complex issues. It tries unsuccessfully to condense everything into quick sound and visual bites. It fails.
As an artist, it has forced me to be more vigilant about the information that was being presented to me. The power of editing, and of stepping back from the immediacy falsely presented as urgency, became paramount.
The world seems to be asking “what is it that you can do in this situation?” The answer, I believe, is to play one’s strengths. Mine is not to win comment debates… it is to express my reflections. What is the mood lingering around this… what are the nuances… and how can I get others to notice these things, so that they can respond in their own best ways?
On my news feeds, I have been actively eliminating the voices of people either reveling in the hate and misinformation, or drenched in their own wallowing. In turn, I sought out voices that were fresh and novel, and specifically those that are being creative. I also began to look at other artists and art lovers, and to develop a sense of community among peers.
This is not the same as retreating into a thought bubble. There is still information coming from many sources. The difference is in how you are able to act within the given environment. A thought bubble is a cushion that allows for lazy comfort. It’s a blanket that covers someone who was planning on sleeping anyway. In contrast, editing your social environment allows one to act (and interact) in the best way that they can in response to a given situation. It fortifies your voice, and strengthens your tools.
It makes no sense to tolerate ignorance in the name of inclusion. Our town center does not have to be overrun by cunning hooligans. And it bruises the soul to be constantly exposed to the worst case scenario being artificially enhanced by malicious sources. You can find bad news if you seek it: in fact, it will find you more often if you are continuously open to it.
I hope that those reading this will see my contribution to social media as a positive contribution to their “town center.” Going through hard times can also be a call to action, that can incentivize you to contribute to the improvement of your world.