Monday, March 20, 2017

Toto, We're Not In Kansas Anymore!

"Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." - Psalm 119:105

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

There are some weird things on the internet and social media these days. Some true, some false, and some frighteningly disturbing. With the increase of our 'immediate' world mindset and explosion of social media platforms, it seems like anything goes when it comes to sharing pieces of the world, our lives, and even ourselves.

Twitter, SnapChat, Facebook, and Instagram have lent to a plethora of high speed information, whether in the form of words or pictures. From the profane to the cute, you can set your eyes on every type of article having every type of photo that contains a gripping title to catch your skimming eyes. The goal to shock and sicken grows each passing day.

There used to be a time when the news we received was accurate and backed by more than one source. Each detail was fact checked until the publisher was confident and pleased with the article about to be released. Nowadays, it seems like a hint of a whisper of an incident is enough to make its way to the front page and the more appalling, the better. Scary.

Why is that? What happened to solid reporting that, while true in its form, still maintained some discretion in exposure of gory pictures or violent behaviours? Why do we do the things that we do when it comes to media and the world wide web?

Malcolm X, an African-American minister and human rights activist once said, about the media, "The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." That speaks volumes and should cause great alarm within our consciences.

Anthony Carmona, currently the fifth president of Trinidad and Tobago, had this to say about social media, "Social media websites are no longer performing an envisaged function of creating a positive communication link among friends, family and professionals. It is a veritable battleground, where insults fly from the human quiver, damaging lives, destroying self-esteem and a person's sense of self-worth." I think Anthony has hit the proverbial nail on the head.

What once was to be a platform to keep in touch with loved ones near and far, social media has now fallen into the cracks of a place for stalking, bullying, and showcasing. Social media has become one of the most powerful forms of advertisement for anything within and beyond the imagination. So, what makes us do the things we do on social media?

Is there any guilt or remorse for the things said and done once it's 'out there'? Is it too late to apologize for a scathing comment/opinion once it's posted? Why post anything at all? What is the point?

Of course, the answers to the above questions will vary according to the individual. Some people get extremely passionate about an article or a viewpoint they have heard or read and feel a need to respond, sometimes, without much thought. Some people will give great thought before sharing their opinions.

I'm quite careful about what I post or share on any social media platform. You just never know what is true and what isn't. Don't get me wrong, there have been times when I have wanted to share something but then quickly recant, realizing that what I'm about to share isn't necessarily in line with who I am or want to be. It's something that, in the emotion of the moment, I have gotten caught up in.

In a way, the world has prevented many of us from being who we truly are because of a greater concern about who everyone else is. We start to do things we wouldn't normally do just to keep up with the masses when, in fact, we really don't want to be that way. It's peer pressure on a global scale that I don't think any person can be completely immune to.

There is a man in the Bible by the name of Paul. He had a difficult time doing the things he was supposed to do even while accomplishing a lot for Jesus. In fact, he was hand picked to do that work even in light of having faults and mess ups. However, over time, he became wiser in the things he did and said in order to be the person he really wanted to be.

Whether famous or not, I think we can all appreciate the benefits of becoming a better person. To think more and speak less. To live more and 'share' less. Technology has become a wonderful tool in which to reach beyond every boundary and learn incredible things. May we be responsible in how we use this tool in our everyday lives.

We may not be living in simpler times, back in Kansas like Dorothy did before being swept away by the tornado, but I think we can each contribute to a greater good of safety and responsibility in our own corner of the social media world, letting peace and love rule.

Encouragement for the week:

The world around us is available at the touch of a button, streaming a non-stop whirlwind of information. Sometimes the quality of the information can be overwhelming, even depressing and we can get caught up in things we never intended to. Perhaps even becoming someone we really don't want to be.

Instead of being led, just be yourself. Be who you want to be, not what the world tries to force feed you to be. Yes, there will still be times that mistakes will be made. There is no perfection on this planet.

If you are a Christian, you know that it's only God and Jesus who are perfect and as you live out a relationship with them, it is the direction of the Holy Spirit that will help you to be who you want to be.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the good things He sees in you to become who you want to be. In this relationship with Him, you will be able to better navigate this mine field called life.

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