Home > Life, Politics, Really?, Spirituality/Religion > Will Social Media Cause The Next World War?

Will Social Media Cause The Next World War?

Or are we already fighting it and don’t even realize it?

After four years as a Facebook junkie, I’m moving into an introspective period about its value and how it has changed me and those in my life.

When I first joined, it was an oasis. Introvert that I am, I am not energized by physical interaction with people. I find conversation difficult because my head is always moving faster than the conversation and I have a hard time listening, which sort of defeats the purpose of verbal discourse. I often want to rewind the discussion to go back to an interesting point but by then we’ve moved on to talking about flowers and birds and cupcake recipes. Facebook allows me and others to address something that was said earlier so we can expand on it. This is like candy for me!

But on the shadow side, Facebook is a place for us to dispel our aggression on each other. As hard as we try to explain ourselves in civil terms, there is always someone (sometimes it’s me) who can’t stop their own train of thought long enough to hear what is really being said. Feelings get hurt, misunderstandings occur, and prejudices are inflamed; all the ingredients for a good feud.

Four years has allowed me to follow the arcs of growth for a number of people. Some who have been too shy to speak up in real life have found a forum for expression here and we have tapped into absolute gold mines of thought; the meek have inherited a whole new world. By the same token, those who have typically experienced great power in the physical realm have stumbled on an army of bully victims who now have at least a virtual shield against their wrath. No longer is the power one-sided. People across the globe are standing up and being heard and it is catching the bullies off guard.

What I have yet to get used to, though, is having to “listen” to the voices of the formerly powerful as they pull out their back-up arsenals of vitriol in an effort to regain their authority. The Bible gets tossed around like a hot potato and pictures of guns make a vain attempt to impersonate the real thing. Caustic humor is rampant as we try to impress our friends with our cleverness and end up stabbing others in the heart.

So my question is, will social media cause us to sharpen our blades or will it encourage us to lay down our weapons? Will those whose inclination it is to divide and conquer continue to feel further empowered by this anonymity or will they be healed by gentle encouragement to examine their thinking? Will we accept the responsibility not to just spew rhetoric and attempt to educate ourselves about what is true on a deeper level?

Bottom line, we know more about each other now than many of us ever wanted to. We’ve gone deeper and seen into the souls of people we thought we knew and in most cases found that we didn’t really know them at all, for better or worse.

Will social media cause, or will we use it to prevent, the next world war?

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  1. annie daugherty
    October 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    love this, el… my thoughts are that it’s all part and parcel of our evolution… it’s like the purifying of precious metals… they may appear pure, but just heat them up and stir and the dross comes to the surface. it may be ugly, but at least now it can be skimmed off. social media has brought new freedom. freedom in the hands of the immature can be ‘dangerous’, yet, it’s the only avenue that provides for a process by which we can learn and grow. not to wax overly religious (for those who are offended by it LOL), but i see this in Jesus as he went to be baptized by john the baptist, who objected at what he saw as inappropriate. Jesus’ reply was interesting (to me anyway), “suffer it to be so for now that all righteousness might be fulfilled”. sometimes we just have to suffer through to arrive at the goal… i think facebook is like what is said of stress… it doesn’t create character. it reveals it. our assholiness was always there. it’s good for it to be revealed so we can deal with it…

  2. Mickey Grooters
    October 16, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I have thought about this piece a lot and just now am getting around to responding. I think you raise some great questions – and indeed fb is a place where the meek find voice; and the powerful can bully; and liars can spread lies.

    While there is that serendipity meeting and shifting opinions – on say – gay marriage or civil rights afforded to all, I wonder if the internet is actually having the opposite effect to what – that we lose serendipity in information seeking because we can tailor where we go so closely and who we interact with. I have not defriended anyone, but I always remove political posts from people I don’t want to hear from or who come within one second of saying anything positive about the Republican ticket, like pictures of snakes, I just don’t want them on my wall or in my viewing. Also I generally only view news sources that agree with my view of the universe. Generally, but I do read on line USA Today – as well as NYT and Washington Post– but I simply do not want to read the WSJ, etc. So I am not ready to start war, but neither am I enlarging my current vision.– That all goes for Bible too. I am not inclined to go to sites that deny Jesus’ deity, but nor am I inclined to go to sites that use Jesus as a bludgeon. However, following Carl Medearis’ blog and his Middle Eastern blogs, I have enlarged my vision of Islam.

    People tend to find sources they trust and tend to hang out with people they agree with – and always did. Maybe that’s true online too– eventually those fb folks who don’t “fit” sift out. Then there are those social networking sites where you don’t use your real name–anonymity is the key. And, I think anonymity may not be a bad thing. It allows for behaviors wemay consider normatively “bad” but it also grants the freedom to do all kinds of things that people wouldn’t do otherwise. Perhaps though the opportunity for bullying is too intense there, but if you are bullying my avatar and not me. . . is that better????

    Looking at other countries – we see that no one has the same kinds of definition and language and openness that we have– maybe we learn that??? I am a Christian believing all the theologically doctrinal basics, but also believing that we do interpret the Bible differently, and so I have – after study- always read those texts quoted by fundamentalists about homosexuality differently. As I have said before Highland Baptist Church in Louisville’s pastor has written something that comes close to my beliefs. Also there was a video circulating a while ago with a young man preaching and pointing to specific texts that refute the typical fundamentalist views. And the repeal of the marriage act should be a no brainer, and so should civil rights for same sex couples who are married. But, individual church should not be forced to “marry” folks against their doctrine if they don’t want, churches that do– OK. Still, holding those views during the Chick-a-fill thing– reading your thoughts and also the entries of your friends made me weep– and “feel” at a gut level the injustice of something what heretofore was an intellectual assent. So there is where social media– and you as you are who you are, and you and your friends are smart, sensitive, feeling — really made me experience movement. On the other hand, sometimes it hurts in the gut to hear Christ/Christians dissed en masse – and then social media for me becomes – a cause of pain. So perhaps one of the issues is how folks paint with a broad brush– so a refrain ALWAYS HAS TO BE how many Muslms do you know? How many Christians? How many gays? How many Republicans (ish, ish). Don’t think a war- but do think we will each go to our own corners, check our own sources – not sure how much really critical thinking. .

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