There is a time and a place for everything. In public meetings, there is a time for people to offer their comments on issues.
In newspapers, there is a place where journalists can put our thoughts down on paper and places where readers can share their views by writing us letters.
Social media has become a public free-for-all in certain senses. People say, post and do what they want there. (I have been a social media manager for over five years now. I have seen it all and then some.)
There are not many rules and laws that govern the Internet. Individuals can be whoever they want to be on the Internet because it is sometimes easier than showing their true colors in public.
We live in a critical society. It is tough to be who you are in the world today with many people telling you how you should be.
Fear of saying what is really on our minds is diminishing as people are taking full advantage of the First Amendment on social media.
At the same time, social media users tend to forget something that is very important: Look before you cross, and mind what you say before it is said.
A couple of months ago, a screenshot of an article headline and story I wrote was being shared on local Facebook pages.
While I was excited to see many people are reading our newspaper (thank you for that, by the way), I was surprised to see that the person’s comments about the story were in no way related to what was actually written in the story.
It made me realize how easily ideas are inferenced from a headline and how much people avoid reading into the “fine print.”
People type in a headline or status to spark debate and controversy. This doesn’t happen every time, but more often than not. It has become the norm as more celebrities and public figures inspire others to do the same.
Often overlooked, consequences do apply when the real world and the Internet meet. Boy, do they ever!
A little more than 10 years ago, people did not have to worry about protecting their personal reputation on the Internet. I have seen people lose jobs, friends and live through embarrassment caused by a social media post.
Video posts and going live on social media to “blast” or “call out” others is THE growing trend these days.
I saw a Facebook video recently of a woman repeating a racial slur to the woman who was recording her. The whole ordeal happened at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.
That is all that was posted, and who knows what really happened before the slurs and cussing came about?
The woman who recorded the video of the outburst was quoted in an article saying she was not trying to get paid or receive anything material out of the situation, nor did she wish the aggressor or her family any harm.
That was not the case judging by the comments made by others on the shared stories afterward.
This is where I wondered what she sought to accomplish by making that video public for the world to see.
How could it have been handled differently?
Doing what people feel is right changes from person to person.
I will acknowledge, though, if we did not have social media available, we would not have that first look of happenings in other places. We would not as easily be able to look out into the world and view its cultures.
It is becoming more apparent in this digital age that people are forgetting how to speak to one another.
Ranting on social media is thought to be the least-complicated avenue of solving problems, compared to handling the issue person to person.
We should be able to put down our phones, close the laptops and move to find a working solution.
Social media should not be the only place we can freely speak, solve issues and be proactive in society.
I realize not everyone comes out a winner. But, it is a step toward a more positive outcome people should be willing to take.