But wouldn’t it be a shame if we create such unforgiving filters
that the positive, the joy and the connections never make it through?
Overload. We hear a lot about information overload. People bemoan social media as a culprit of over stimulation, time wasting, and a privacy invasion. As if we have no control over what we click and view. How much of the overload is self-imposed? Or have we simply lost the ability or the desire to engage our filters? If we aren’t in touch then, “OMG! FOMO!”
Gratitude. This past week I celebrated my birthday with the help of my wife, friends, former students, and colleagues across the nation. I was reminded of the gratitude I have for all of these people who have entered my life at many junctures over the past six decades—and who have decided to stay in touch. Yes, some of them may have simply hit a pre=populated “Happy birthday!” message. Nonetheless, they still took the time to hold a positive thought on my behalf. I am grateful for that.
Years ago, I would have received cards in my mailbox, phone calls, and perhaps lunch or dinner with those close by. The physical cards I receive have dwindled to a small few. Phone calls still come in. But the biggest change comes by way of social media.
Connectedness. A few friends dug deep into their treasure trove of old photos and posted old (as in 40+ years ago) of me. A student from more than 30 years ago posted an in-action-classroom photo of me (shot unbeknownst to me in the days when cameras were named Minolta rather than Android). All were a hoot. A flood of memories came back. We laughed. And more comments were posted. It was fun and added to the happiness of the day.
Clay Shirky’s book Cognitive Surplus (2010) pointed out that one of the great takeaways of social media is that the “motivation to share is the driver; technology is just the enabler.” So often social media is equated with egomaniacal posts, rants, or out-and-out ugliness. We can lose sight of the power of social media to connect and create positive consequences.
Some studies have shown that social media can help shut-ins achieve a sense of connectedness that they might not have otherwise enjoyed. Recent research looking at “happy brains” points out that
“Humans have a negativity bias, a tendency to focus on threats.
But this research suggests that people may be able to compensate for it….”
In a small way, the couple hundred or so posts and “likes” I received during my birthday may very well have helped my amygdala to continue searching for the positive, uplifting events and people in my life.
The naysayers of social media will grouse about such postings. Yes, there may be possible downsides. You have to create the filters you are comfortable with. But wouldn’t it be a shame if we create such unforgiving filters that the positive, the joy and the connections never make it through?
Video recommendation of the week: Clay Shirky asks us to consider if we suffer from information overload or filter failure.
Make it an inspiring week as you pursue your authentic “hell, yeah!” goals.—H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.
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