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Turn Down the Noise

Social media, man. It’s such a crazy thing. Never before have we been able to access so many people and ideas all at once. Now, we don’t have to let previous people and friends fall off our radar anymore. We can do a quick search to see how Sally-Jo from the 3rd grade is doing, or check-in to find out if that boss who made our lives miserable for 3 years is still up to the same crap. We can search, stalk, learn, listen, and respond at a faster rate and to a wider audience than literally any other generation before us. 

How wonderful, and yet – how terrifying.

Social media also gives us a metaphorical microphone. In a way, it gives courage to some people to say and type things they would never dare say in person. I like to refer to these people as “keyboard warriors.” Lots of talk, very little evidence or action to back up their claims. 

For better or for worse, social media adds a lot of noise to our already chaotic life. We can choose what noise channels we tune into, but if we don’t filter intentionally, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of it all. 

So today, I want to send two gentle reminders, both to myself and to everyone reading this:

  1. What noise are you listening to on social media? Is it positive or negative? Is it helpful or a mere distraction? If you’re not sure the answer to either of those, think “how do I feel after I listen or read this person’s account – anxious, intimidated, sad, inspired, angry?” Being aware of this is extremely important. 

Social media can be so incredibly wonderful. For myself, it’s allowed me to stay connected to a community of people I otherwise might never have found. It’s not like I go around every day meeting one-legged people, or people that inspire me in general, regardless of if they have a physical adaptation or not. Instagram in particular has made me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself. That I’m not alone, other people struggle too, and together we can overcome the hardships and find joy. 

But sometimes, I can tune into noise that is less than stellar. It’s distracting, and sometimes noise for the sake of being loud, rather than helping people get better. I can easily judge those accounts for the content they produce, but also…aren’t I the one consuming it? It’s not like anyone is holding a gun to my head as I scroll through their page. It’s up to me to mute or unfollow, and to choose not to consume things that aren’t edifying.

  1. What noise are you creating on social media? It’s important to recognize that social media has power, even if you don’t have a ton of followers. People watch and consume what you say, and what you say will have consequences – positive or negative. It’s really easy to turn to our socials when we feel incensed about something. I’ve done this before myself. But not all that long ago, humanity had to handle their emotions differently. We had to process on our own, or with a few close friends, rather than running to a public platform to release our pent up anger or to search for some kind of validation (or to start a petty cyber war of some kind, lol). 

If you find yourself turning to social media in these moments of high emotion, I ask you…maybe, don’t. If you give it time and lots of thought and still feel you’d like to use your platform to speak up on a specific issue, please do so. But recognize that you are influencing others in ways you may not even realize. That holds power, which should require additional responsibility. Keep that in mind in your response. You have eyes on you that you don’t see. 

Social media is not the source of all evil. It’s a tool, and like any tool, we can use it for positive change, or not. Let’s be people who choose the former. 

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