As I sit here on this rainy day, I have been doing a lot of writing today. I have also been doing a lot of thinking about the column as well. My column this week is about social media in this country, how it is used, why is it used, and what is its purpose to us as a society.
First, let me state that I enjoy social media. I think that it is good for a lot of things. I use it for contacting friends and family that live out of town. I do this with texting, private messaging, my cellphone, Facebook, email, twitter, instagram, tumblr, snapchat, linkedin, and others.
I bet some of you are probably thinking, you mean this old man knows how to get around in those sites? Well, yes, I do. I will admit I don’t know all there is to these apps, but I know enough to get around and do what I need to do.
One of my main concerns, however, is a report I heard recently about Youtube. Youtube is a great app. You can actually learn things on that app. There are, however, a lot of folks who post videos on Youtube that maybe shouldn’t. I am not talking about porn or things like that. Most of that is screened.
Recently I was made aware of some sexual predators who were making comments on videos that were of children that were posted by their parents. The posts were innocent videos of children doing childlike things. In the comment section of the videos, predators were posting things which seemed innocent, but in actuality were not so innocent.
The Internet, which is a valuable tool to today’s society, has been interrupted by these predators and used for evil things. It is sad when many people in today’s society make their living off the Internet, but a few want to make it bad for everyone else.
Sources at Google, who created Youtube, say they are working hard at fixing any problems with the program to keep out predators. They have had problems in the past and supposedly fixed those issues, but new issues have come up. There are many intelligent people in this world who can really get around the Internet, and when one area is fixed, they seem to find another way around it.
The reason I bring this up is that I have two grandchildren that from time to time watch some Youtube videos. My granddaughter watches shows for smaller children and seems to want all the toys she sees on the video. She tells me “Pops, I want that toy.” My grandson on the other hand watches Nerf wars, and army stuff. I will tell you that most of the stuff he watches is good, but every now and then a curse word is inserted, so we tell him to change the video.
Of course, if it was just Youtube that had things that were illegal on it you could just take Youtube off, and that would be it. That is not the case, either, as plenty of porn videos and other videos can be pulled up online.
So parents, when your children are on the Internet, do you monitor what they are searching or watching? This is just something to think about.
Now I want to talk about the other side of social media. At Chattanooga State in the classes that I teach, one of the articles we use in our curriculum that the students have to write a response to is about social media. As I have told you already I enjoy my social media time, but I would like to give you some examples of how social media, especially our cell phones, have made us less of a society that communicates face to face.
Last summer my wife and I were eating at an O’Charley’s restaurant. While we were there, I noticed an older man and his (I assumed to be) adult son having lunch together. For the thirty minutes or more that I observed them, the older gentleman read a book and never put it down except to pay the waitress. The other gentleman who I assumed to be his son, had out his cellphone and either watched videos or surfed various apps while eating.
Neither of these two men said a word to each other. I am not even sure they enjoyed their time together. Now ask yourself, how many of us do the same thing when we are eating at home or eating out. Do we have our phones out?
Another thing to ask ourselves is do we even talk to one another anymore? It seems that some days I get more texts than I do calls. There are times when a text might be more appropriate, but if that is all I do, then you cannot tell if I am really mad at you, or maybe just a little upset – but not mad. I know I could use all CAPS, and that would tell you that I am mad.
Also, our cellphones have where we can block certain numbers from calling us. So if you have a friend or family member you don’t want calling you, then block them. When I was growing up the way we blocked people from calling us was leaving the phone off the hook. For all you young people out there who don’t understand that, when you left the phone off the hook, it would give a busy signal when you tried to call, so you couldn’t get through.
So ask yourself, do you spend too much time with all of your social media devices? Do you still have actual conversations? Do you use your device for its intended use?
I pray that you do.