Thursday, January 19, 2017

Taming the social media beast

Call it the dinosaur in me.

I am becoming increasingly distrustful of technology and social media.

This has nothing to do with "Fake News."

It has everything to do with "Too Much Information."

In short, I think we're all overloaded. We're all plugged in entirely too much. We all feel free to divulge even our most private thoughts, thinking that people are interested in these intimate details.

Hey, it worked for the Kardashians.

And Donald Trump rode this "reality" train all the way to the White House.

In less lives, such as mine and a lot of other people, it can be a bit more problematic.

I think Antonio Brown might understand.

The star wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers apparently was not content to bask in the glow of last weekend's big divisional playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Instead - of course - he took to social media and used Facebook live to literally broadcast live the Steelers' post-game locker room celebration.

In doing so he fractured a long-held sports maxim: what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.

He also did something else once considered a 'No-No' in sports: He provided billboard material for this weekend's opponent, Bill Belechick and the New England Patriots. That's because Brown's insistence on being a social media star broadcast to the world some less than complimentary comments about the Pats made by none other than his head coach, Mike Tomlin.

As you might imagine, Tomlin was less than pleased.

Wednesday, Brown apologized.

Yeah, right. Until the next time.

To be honest, I know how he feels. I know how easy it is to think that you are the center of the universe, that you - and what you have to say - are important.

Social media is a big part of my job these days. For the most part, I spend inordinate amounts of time every day posting material on Twitter and Facebook, sharing both personal and business items.

I would be lying to you if I said I did not post things that I later regretted.

It is now part of what I do every day. And it's one I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable with.

I know, that's my problem. Not yours.

But I think we will continue to see instances like the one Antonio Brown found himself snarled in this week pop up more and more often.

As a person who edits material every day, I can tell you every writer, every person who puts information out to the general public, needs a good editor. They are the writer's best friend - another set of eyes. Not just to catch the more than occasional typo that can ruin a good piece. But to operate as a filter, someone who might question what you are about to lay bare before the rest of the world.

The problem with social media is that in all too many instances, there are no editors. Everyone with a phone, tablet or laptop is a publisher.

That's a powerful title.

I know. I perform those dual duties almost every morning.

Today, too often not much of anything that happens in any of our live stays private. We have social media to blame for much of that, and what I will simply refer to as the 'Kardashian' effect.

Starting tomorrow, the nation will be led by a commander-in-chief whose preferred method of communication comes in burst of 140 characters.

Yes, the Donald is a Twitter master.

But I wish every once in awhile he would take a deep breath before hitting that send button.

The same breath I sometimes wish I had employed before firing off that email, before posting on Facebook.

Look for less of me online in the near future.

And feel free to do likewise if you feel the same way.

The world will continue to spin, even if the 'spin' on social media declines.

At least I think it will.

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