Just this past weekend I spent some time with some friends and as has been happening for quite some time now, they asked me about Twitter. They asked me “…what is it?” and “…what does it do?” and “…why should I use it?”, etc. In the midst of my explanation the inevitable comment came…
“…I don’t want my kids using all that stuff, it isolates them.”
With what’s been happening in Iran lately with the Internet Revolution – I don’t see how anyone can say that the Internet isolates anyone! We now have the opportunity to not just know the people in our neighborhoods but to get to know people from other parts of the country and the world. When, in history, has this ever been possible? In my humble opinion, when people say they think the Internet isolates people, what they’re really saying is that they don’t understand it and they’re scared of it. If they’re scared of it they can’t control it. I don’t know anyone who uses social media and thinks it’s isolating. If anything, it’s liberating.
But, with the liberation comes responsibilities. You can’t just say what you want, we all still have moral responsibilities to express ourselves thoughtfully. Being angry and mean is the same whether you say it in person or online.
And, parents have the added responsibility of teaching their children how to behave and what to watch out for on the Internet. It used to be you could just tell your children to “…look both ways before crossing the street” and “…don’t talk to strangers.” Those days are over. The list of things to watch out for is long for children these days and I for one, applaud those parents who take on this responsibility to teach their children how to interact in today’s world.
But, back to the social media and Internet. The recent events in Iran showcase to everyone the absolute power the Internet and social media can have on a worldwide basis. Imagine if the people in Darfur had access to this? Would they still be suffering as they are? I doubt it.
If you’re still in the back of the room wondering if you should join a social media group and begin interacting on the Internet, stop scratching your head and just do it. Begin with something you enjoy, like a hobby or something and you’ll soon find out how easy and how fruitful it can be to join these groups. It doesn’t matter how you start. Whether you start with Twitter or Facebook or Linked In or any of the many, many social media groups. The point is to start using it.