What is wrong with people's Social Media OBSESSION?

Over the past couple of weeks, a few different social media groups I am involved in had for lack of better words, a Come to Jesus moment. Things were written, tense was assumed, private messages exploded and over all behavior, by seemingly normal human beings, took a big old crap!

I’m over the shock and awe now and decided that I needed to sort through this OBSESSION people have with social media.

I have only seriously dipped into the online community--twitter, tumblr, Facebook—the past year.  I’ll admit to some pretty awesome fan girl moments when an author I like either comments or favorites one of my tweets.  Someone chooses to follow or like me and I’m over the moon!  Because we are blessed with all of this technology at our fingertips, we can find and connect with so many people and do it instantaneously.  I’m struggling with what to call these folks, “virtual friends”, “internet besties”, “online companions?”  For some of these relationships, it seems like a friendship starting.  We exchange nicknames, we IM, we have insider hashtag conversations, we say Hi to each other, and we share bits and pieces of ourselves that we may not share elsewhere. 

Does this mean we are now FRIENDS

The dictionary definition is:

1.    A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard
2.    A person who gives assistance
3.    A person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile

Or one of the Urban Dictionary definitions:
A person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. A person who would never intentionally hurt you, lie to you, deceive you, manipulate you, and who takes great care to be kind to you, honest with you, dependable and loyal. Someone who you trust without question because he/she has never given you any reason not to trust. Someone you enjoy being around and look forward to seeing. Someone who would sacrifice him/herself for you.

For the majority of cases, those virtual friends are never going to meet.  They aren’t going to back you up. They won’t be there to support you through family crisis.  They aren’t a phone call away and available to you 24/7.  We don’t know them well enough to trust them implicitly.  Social media sometimes gives us the false sense that we are closer to folks than we really are. Getting an intimate look into people’s lives, we start to think that we know them. They feel familiar. Familiarity comes with expectations. Expectations comes with responsibility. The next thing you know, you’re sitting at home, stressing out over a tweet or a Facebook post that someone you've never met in person wrote that you think might be about you.

So this leads me back to the original issue—the bad behavior of a few disrupting the flow of a larger group. People!  We are simply online companions!  We don’t have a say in how you choose to live your life.  Similarly, because you choose to follow me, does not mean that you have to LIKE me or have a say in how I live my life.  It is common curtesy to be polite.  To listen to what others have to say without judgment or a need to share that judgment. To not harass or malign because of some preconceived notions about “friendship” status.  To only do unto others what you would have done unto you.  I cannot be the only adult out there whose parents instilled these character strengths in. Some people are better behaved with strangers in a grocery store than with their online community.

Are there social media friends that I wish I could meet in person?  Absolutely!  Are there individuals that I have seen conversations between or read tweets from that I would just as soon not ever meet?  For sure! Have I expressed dislike for those persons? Nope.  Can’t do it.  I’m waiting for the social mores to catch up to the technology we use.  Maybe we need to go back to just talking to one another face to face.  Bottom line:  make good friends in your real life, remember to be thankful always, excel at what you do best, give back whenever you can, and be kind to those online.

Additional help for those who want it:


What Blog readers are OBSESSING over