In an age old episode of Faulty Towers there is a scene, which resinates with me because of it’s pure ludicracy. Basil, played by that eccentric comic John Cleese, is traveling in his small car when it breaks down. In frustration he takes a large tree branch and proceeds to beat the car saying, “I’ve told you before, you worthless…”
Whenever I recall the scene it reminds me that we as humans have a tendency to take the inanimate object and treat it as human so we may attribute blame. It’s a common trait and perhaps it stems from the frustration of blaming others for our misfortunes? Whatever, it reminds me of social media.
Social media is a communication tool, a vehicle, a voluntary tool – you can take it or leave it, just like a bus. Want to get on it – your choice, want to get off – your choice too. It is of course the tool of fun, a tool of intelligence, a tool of interconnection and it is also a weapon. What it is not …is responsible! And yet we beat it up like Basil’s car.
Certainly social media has it’s ills and that is devastating for those young people who find themselves victims of deprecation and bullying. For the vile and often cowardly individual, whose gutless vitriol inhabits the pages of Facebook etc it is an opportunity to spew their filth to an audience who are often eager to listen. It is they who are responsible; it is the voice, not the communication mechanism. So for all it’s delights and woes, beating up ‘social media’ per say is mundane, pointless and achieves nothing. Like the car, it is the drivers not the vehicles.
So what needs to change? What needs to adapt or rather who needs to modify. There is an old PR adage about not giving oxygen to a story and perhaps this is the way to overcome the worms who use social media as a weapon. I believe we need to educate our children and vulnerable individuals to ignore these fools. Not to simply turn a blind eye but to help build strong self images and a non reactive character. Individuals who are confident and powerful in their thinking, always understanding that it is not their personality at question but the behaviour of the scum bags who seek to denigrate others – it is they who are in the hairline target sites.
I am not advocating a detailed prescription here, I simply make the point that while we are busy blaming ‘social media’ we are blinded to the real problem – US!
Social media, as a tool for connectivity, for spreading the good news, for sharing the humour, for keeping in touch is not the perpetrator here, it is us. Our culture, our society, our communities; put that right and we need never beat up our cars, our phones, or any other tool we have created, because only then can we lay claim to being civilised.