The sadness of social media

While the effort began innocently as a way to connect college students and others together.
The world which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and dozens of other companies which seek to build an audience. They bring us together for communication, use us as an audience for their advertisers, and collect information about our computer habits so they can gain money by using or sharing our data.
Now they are being scrutinized as private companies for judging what we say and hindering our ability for our opinions to be seen by others by shadow banning and or creating algorithms that prevents everything from being seen by everyone who chooses to follow or like an individual.
Social media is now taking over as the medium of delivering news and information which creates an unusual problem. Now real news comes to us right beside the opinions of anyone and everyone.
Anyone can state their opinion, form it as a news article and get people believing their false or slanted information as the gospel truth simply because it floats through next to legitimately prepared, reviewed and presented information.
Whether it’s a small or big town social media bully attacking a volunteer, a business person, or public servant, to create a fervor against them, or a child telling a tale about a fellow student in their school, the result is the same. Someone is being emotionally harmed by the actions of someone else for their own gratification or gain while others are fooled into believing the falsehoods.
Many of the companies claim their staff are policing such, but it seems many of their actions that are exposed reflect the old saying of “Straining at a knat while swallowing a camel.” They spend more time on restraining legitimate free speech while not dealing with individual abuse and bullying.
Realizing that they are not going to protect us. We must be the real police of such behavior. First and foremost, we should be cautious of inflammatory statements about individuals no matter their source.
Seek more information. If you know the person, do the courtesy of contacting them to alert them of the offense. If you feel the information is untrue or see it to be bullying or an attack, report it to the social media company. The main action, if you are a close friend of the author, then call it privately to their attention that you disheartened by their actions.
In the past, our personal negativity generally passed to a circle of six to 12 people and stopped. But today, we all have the ability to share a statement and potentially hundreds to thousands see it, and have the potential to believe it and share it further. That makes our job as a human being even greater than ever before. We must take responsibility for what we say, post, share and promote on our social media pages.
Social media is an amazing tool which if used well can bring us together, if used for evil purposes, it can bring us and our civilization to destruction.
I urge our federal and state authorities in taking a greater interest in how these companies do their business to make sure that they provide a fair space available to all, and that their efforts to protect us from ourselves, do that while not destroying the freedom of speech we all rely upon.

Passion and politics

The election is nearing and we will soon go to polls and choose a vision for the future of our country.

Whenever such an opportunity is at hand, I reflect back on family stories centered around elections.

In the early days of our country, people actually had a passion about the right to vote and exercising thereof. I guess since there were still those who could remember living without that right whether here or in their home country or whose parents’ described the experience of having no such right to them.

By the mid-1800s, the rights were extended beyond property owners, and by 1870s eliminating prohibition on voting due to race, color or previous servitude. But for many the right was still out of reach and that passion re-emerged during the suffrage movement for women and then again insuring the rights already promised were delivered during the civil rights movement for African Americans.

My grandmother joined in the passion of the suffrage movement anxiously wanting to place her vote when the opportunity came after the passage of the 19th amendment, she could not wait for her chance to pull the curtain. After finishing making breakfast for the family, she headed off on foot to her poll where she proudly cast her ballot. It was years later, she told me that part of the joy of that moment was voting for a different candidate than my grandfather wanted to win thus cancelling out his vote. She finally was able to have her choice and not just have to go along.

Today, many treat voting as a nuisance, something that you only do if it convenient, or if you happen to like one of the candidates.

I hope I am not mixing up my stories but as I recall in one branch of our family, one section of the family was so passionate about the candidate running for president in the late 1800s, that when news that another cousin might vote for his opposition, they kidnapped the cousin to keep him from voting. This resulted in his closer kin retaliating to get him back resulting in some passionate exchange of gunfire until the matter was settled. I don’t remember if there were any deaths in this enthusiasm.

However, in another polling place disagreement, a battle erupted between adversary kin outside a local polling place, once again over political philosophies, resulting in, as best I recall, the final deaths in a family feud that spanned two centuries.

Passion and politics have long walked hand in hand. We have seen much passion exhibited during this season. I hope if nothing else occurs in the next few weeks, something that you hear, something you see, moves you not to take this right we have for granted. Exercise it. Be like my grandmother who walked miles to vote. Vote for whomever you feel will lead our country, your community, in the direction you desire us to go.

Men and women fought, marched, and died to give us this right. Don’t let all those sacrifices be for naught.



Take off the gloves and put on the mitts

The election season is finally over with a few post-count legal maneuverings left to go.

It is now time for all candidates on every tier of government to take off the boxing gloves, shake hands and come out fighting for the American people rather than against each other.

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