Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Facebook and Tomato Sandwiches
I invited myself to lunch yesterday with a couple of dear friends.
It started when one of the girls posted a picture on social media of her gloriously ripening backyard tomatoes and the rest just took care of itself. It seems that we all have a fondness for fresh tomato sandwiches on challah, made with just a hint of mayonnaise, basil, and some wonderful cheese. (Lactose free, of course.) My mouth is still in saliva overdrive.
I have to say that it was a wonderful diversion from the myriad of "stuff" plaguing us all. For two lovely hours, we just sat in the sun, consumed the aforementioned delicacy, and chatted. Somehow, in the middle of it all we got to talking about the ills of social media, ironically the very thing that made our lunch yesterday possible.
I have been thinking a great deal about the collective misery that we have been witness to this summer. The horrors in the Middle East, the nightmare in Ferguson, the loss of iconic celebrities, ebola, the bullshit being spewed during this Toronto municipal election campaign, and the crappy weather have all made for a rather soul-crushing season. And social media, especially Facebook, has contributed mightily to much of the ugly discourse.
Social media can be a wonderful tool, but it is just that...a tool. It cannot and should never be a substitute for critical thinking or fact checking. Source material of suspect origin has invaded our feeds and what has me concerned is just how many of us have abdicated our social responsibility to the greater good by passing on trash, rumours, innuendo, and spam. It is dangerous and difficult to undo. Author Terry Pratchett once famously wrote, “A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.” We have a duty to every single person to whom we are connected, to do our homework before carelessly posting and pushing that share button.
I loved the frivolousness of our lunch yesterday. It reminded me of the best parts of social media. Connections. We sometimes lose sight of those connections in our busyness. I am not for a minute advocating dismissing social media from our lives, (there is a genie/bottle metaphor in there somewhere) merely to temper it with a few ripening tomato photos and a stupid status update now and again. It might just lower the ulcer-inducing discourse a wee bit.