Why You Need To Be More Responsible On Social Media During These Tense Times
That’s the short answer to the question posed in the title for this post. The longer answer?
Social media is a minefield of opinions and Internet memes with facts and trolls dispersed throughout. It’s pretty much a gumbo of very little facts and a ton of hot takes. While it’s easy to navigate the day-to-day banter about everything from Donald Trump to Rich Homie Quan’s onstage flubs, when it comes to breaking news and events that spark outrage, sensitivity levels heighten, misinformation spreads, and it’s not so easy to keep the online peace.
For instance, during last week’s Dallas shootings, where five police officers were killed during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, I tweeted a few words that could have easily been translated to “What did we expect?” I was emotional, hotheaded and didn’t mean to insinuate that I didn’t care about the lives of the police officers or their families. Had I left it up, it was only a matter of time before someone would have hopped in my mentions to assume I was somehow celebrating the death of cops. So before the update could even shimmy down my timeline, I quickly deleted it.
Now, deleting tweets (unless of course there’s a typo) is considered cowardice nowadays. Most often, I’m NeNe Leakes to the bullsh-t (“I said what I said!”), but when people are on edge, it’s almost impossible to tweet an opinion without someone taking your words out of context. Personally, I shy away from causing an online sparring match with some random as to not distract from what’s important. Like why Philando Castile didn’t make it home safely with his partner and her daughter. I also like making a clear point so my stance on an issue isn’t really up for debate. Folks like Bomani Jones and Jamilah Lemieux are A-1 troll slayers, who could’ve easily spent the evening of the Dallas shooting (and the next day) swatting at opposition. But for the majority of us, it’s best we stick to ignoring the white noise. It’s not good for your spirit anyway. When we’re grieving as a community over senseless violence, focus on processing the news and being reasonable, not arguing with some user with a Confederate flag avi. Unless someone wants to have a thoughtful debate, where you can either educate them or learn something, keeping a vague tweet or Facebook status on your page is not worth it.
We also live in an information age where spreading sensationalized fiction is much easier than digesting the cold, hard truth. It’s not just social media. Whatever is shared online spills over into the real world, so a falsity the size of a mustard seed can sprout into a viral headline if gone unchecked. For that reason, don’t post that outdated article (that you didn’t even read first) to your Facebook news feed. Also, don’t retweet some news you’re uncertain about (I still don’t believe these efforts to tie Micah Xavier Johnson to Black Lives Matter, but whatever). Make sure your news source is respected, unbiased and confirms its reports before sharing. Tip? Sources like the AP, Reuters, and the New York Times should be some of your first go-to outlets.
Lately, reports have been so emotionally taxing that we should all step away from these social apps anyway. Being constantly inundated with your friends’ opinions, community reactions, graphic images and press conferences is overwhelming. Some days, you just need to log out, binge-watch Power and take a breather. I mean, J.Lo is out here tweeting and deleting #AllLivesMatter crap, so know that anyone can play themselves on these social platforms. It’s in your best interest to be clear and know when to hold off on posting. But If you are dead set on joining the social media circle during these times, choose your platform wisely. To be honest, sometimes 140 characters are just not enough to explain your POV. Instead, take your full sermon to Facebook and Snapchat.
Don’t get it twisted, though. Monitoring your tweets isn’t to appease others or make others feel more comfortable. In fact, sometimes making people uncomfortable can be the best way to change one’s mindset. However, keeping your social in check ensures you’re not regretting what you type when emotions are high. It’s also about respecting others and being kind to yourself. Trust me, it’s a niceness, and one that’s appropriate in these moments when we’re all just completely fed up.
All in all, use your voice responsibly when discussing such touchy matters. Tweet intelligently, only share the facts, and file those inappropriate “too soon” jokes away for a later time (or the 10th of never).