Courier-Post columnist Meg Duncan shares her thoughts on both the benefits and pitfalls of social media in the 21st century.
All we wanted to do was go home.
As we waved goodbye to the nice tow-truck driver hauling our jeep from the side of Stardust Drive, I turned to Shawn.
“Well, we better start walking.”
The driver had already offered us a ride, but we weren’t far from home. And considering the last time I hoofed that path, it was a huffy walk after I demanded Shawn pull over and let me out (some Walmart trips are better than others) I knew it was a fairly easy road.
Except that Shawn—and everyone else I know—walks about ten times faster than I do. I basically just meander everywhere I go. The faster I try to go, the more crooked I walk, and I usually end up walking straight into the person next to me.
Shawn, on the other hand, speed walks most of the time. Looking back, this makes me wonder how we ever really got to know each other in the first place. We must have just sat down together a lot in the early days.
So, I walked ten feet behind, watching him swing the grocery bags around and thinking about life. I don’t know why but walking all alone turns me into a great philosophical thinker.
This is probably because — even at my snail’s pace — I can’t walk and look at my phone at the same time. And I can’t help but wonder why the only time I go into deep thought is when social media is unavailable.
So, that’s what I thought about most of the walk home. The plight of social media.
“What’s on your mind?”
It’s a simple enough question, but it’s like casting stink bait into a muddy lagoon. Something is going to bite, and it might not be pretty.
And Lord Almighty — things do come out on Facebook. That’s why I think they need to add a few more reaction buttons on posts.
From an eye roll button to a “PREACH!” button, there are several ideas regularly thrown around, but my favorite is the popcorn button. It’s for a social media fight in full swing when comments are rolling in and caps lock is coming out.
And I’m just there to enjoy the show. Politics, a good old fashioned rant, or maybe someone was messing with her man. Either way, Facebook drama is about as entertaining as reality TV without a subscription.
Truth is, though, I think the world was probably a better place when we didn’t always know what was on each other’s minds.
What in the world made anyone think that having constant access to Aunt Freda’s daily political rants—which were usually only endured over the buffet line at Christmas and Thanksgiving—would bring the world closer together?
I guess that’s the heart of the issue. Does Facebook bring us together?
You know, in some ways it does.
In 2007, I became a stay-at-home mom, and a friend introduced me to Facebook. It was amazing to reach out to old friends I thought I might never see again, and share pictures of our families.
One day, I posted a 140-word story (perfectly within the Facebook character limitations), and until those likes and comments started rolling in, I didn’t know I could write stories. I’ve also gotten to know writers from all over the country through Facebook groups, who’ve become friends and colleagues.
So, despite its many society-wrecking flaws, Facebook does have perks.
It’s a way to share life—and real life is so much better than fiction anyway. Especially considering the people I live with.
As Shawn and I continued walking home, we nicely turned down a few friends offering us rides until one of our neighbors found us chasing runaway soup cans in the middle of the road from a Walmart broken bag.
Days later, I picked a phone call from the Muffler Shop, calling to report that the Jeep was in running condition again – and the only thing they could find was an empty gas tank. Something I’d casually mentioned to Shawn before dialing the tow truck’s number.
Although he won’t be living down that down anytime soon, I did promise him I wouldn’t post it on Facebook.
Of course, I never said I wouldn’t publish it in the paper.