Friday, October 17, 2014

Social Media – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Social Media is a good thing.

It’s connected me with people I was once close to and we’ve drifted apart. We live on different sides of the country and we don’t get to see each other often, or at all – but sharing a message, and event, or even Poking someone over Facebook says to me, “Hey, you are important in my life and I’m thinking about you.

It's connected me to "family" that I've never met...and probably never will. It's also kept me closer to family that I don't see that often, but I'm happy to keep up with them and what's going on in their lives.

It’s also connected me with people I didn’t necessarily like growing up, and who didn’t like me – all the way back to grammar school. But now, we’re sharing and chatting and commenting and championing and encouraging and congratulating each other on news, accomplishments, goals, as well as giving each other solace for our sorrows.
I’ve thought about it a lot and realized over the years that not everyone is going to like you. And, you aren’t going to like everyone. But, to finally grow up & not even be able to pinpoint the reasons why you didn’t like that person, and now you are sharing your life with them and communicating – it’s amazing to me and truly an interesting phenomenon.

There’s also the downside of social media. The ever-increasing bullying that is going on. And, it’s more public. It hurts people, marks them and has even ruined, or ended lives.
I was bullied. Not constantly, but there were things that happened in my youth that now I remember and it still befuddles me. I got a call one night when I was in the eighth grade – there was no voicemail or emails and I don’t even think it was a cordless phone.

And, the girl on the other end, who I didn’t really know – told me that some boy told her I called her a slut. First off, I didn’t even know her well other than she was on my “team” – 4 different classes that shared teachers and went to gym and lunch together, and secondly it was something I wouldn’t say.
The next day, she confronted me in the lunchroom and started with me. I don’t fight. I’m truly a make love, not war kind of gal. Well, she got a shot in and punched me. A teacher, thankfully, broke it up very quickly and we both brought to the principal’s office.

She admitted she started it and was suspended.
I still don’t know why this event happened. I probably never will because the few people involved are not in my world anymore. I don’t even know where they, what they are doing, if they are in jail or even still alive.

I was also what could be considered sexually assaulted…in the 5th grade I started to develop and the boys used to snap my bra and call me names. Funnily enough a few years ago I ran into one when I was at a reunion of sorts at a local bar near my hometown. He’s now married and has 4 daughters. We were chatting and I mentioned it and said I used to have such a crush on him – he told me he had a crush on me and that’s why he teased me.

It’s not funny, but in a way it is. Over and over, I was told that a boy teased me because he liked me. And if a girl teased me it was because she was jealous of me. I don’t know if I truly believe that or not – especially now when so many kids are publically being assaulted.
It just needs to stop. Now. Today. Kids – I know it’s hard, but think of the reasons why you do the things you do to each other. In 25 or 30 years (and just so you know, it freaks me out a little that I can say, “That was 30 years ago….” – think if it was your child, or someone you cared about and someone was teasing, or bullying, or punching, or harassing, assaulting that person in your life – how would you feel?

I can also tell you, from experience, that the people you don’t like now – you may not remember in 30 years why you don’t like them….so why waste your precious time and energy being negative, judgmental and hurting someone just because a few badly-chosen words may make you feel more important or popular, or better.

Because I’m telling you now – you will look back and not feel good about it…or, you won’t even remember why…and that’s really sad. And, your actions do affect others.

Just think about it.