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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Happy-Medium

Taylor Berry

Taylor Berry

Taylor Berry

It seems so easy to curate what one wants to see, hear, and talk about on social media. With a “like” you can see more images, pictures, and post that follow what you want. It’s simple and easy to fall in the trap of being on your phone. Before long, 30 minutes have gone by in a blink of an eye. On the other hand, it’s just as easy to silence voices or opinions that you might not like with a simple press of the unfollow button. In a world where Bitmoji can be a tool that helps integrate personas into a cyberspace, it's crucial we don’t fall victim to simply taking in information that align with what is on our own views while shutting out alternative perspectives.

It seems more and more common to click on the comment section on social media platforms, easily finding examples of unhealthy communication patterns. As we all know, it’s easier to sling insults, rants, and vitriol behind a screen, but it’s unwise to completely divorce online life from “real world” discourse.  Whether we understand it or not, there is some intersectionality between our real time and online personas.

Just because we have platforms to connect with others doesn't mean it should replace or overshadow the real-time opportunities we have for dialogue. Physical encounters force us to grapple with individuals and ideas in real time; physical proximity creates opportunities for conversation difficult to capture on online platforms which prioritize brevity. By being unwilling to hear about issues that may be controversial, individuals close off the possibility of personal growth. This can trickle down to personal relationships--my way or the highway doesn't work in real life.

So what? Should we delete our social media profiles because it’s so easy for people to adopt online norms at the expense of nuanced discussion? Not necessarily. Maybe it’s simply understanding that although resources are available, it doesn't mean that we should let that limit how we interact with other people. There can be a happy medium. I won’t sit here and try to tell you what that is for you because it can be something that evolves over time, and is reached through trial and error. Ultimately, the individual should decide how best to navigate online politics for themselves.

May 8, 2018

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