An open letter to Gary Turk, producer of this ->
I don’t know you. In fact, the only reason I know you is because you used the very media you bashed to get your video to go viral. Let me tell you something, as a social media professional, I highly disagree with your anti-social media view of life. I think the problem lies in more in your misconception of what social media is, and less in the fact that social media is ruining our lives.
When used correctly, and in moderation as most things in life should be used, social media enhances relationships. It builds a bridge where bridges once were not possible. For example, my loving relationship with my parents exists whether or not I’m on social media or not, but it’s enhanced when I can share real-time photos of my life with them that I once would not have been able to. Sure, using an iPad to raise your child does not make you “Dad of the Year”, as you say, but that’s not social media’s fault –> That’s the Dad’s fault for misusing social media. It’s not a substance’s problem that there are addicts. It’s the addict’s problem for abusing a substance.
Let me give you some examples of how social media changed my life– for the better.
#1- Social Change
Last year, I was in an abusive marriage. The shame, guilt and fear that was born out of this experience was tremendous. Yet, when I was honest and shared this story via social media, it gave me access to an entire world of people who have been in the exact same situation, that could comfort me and let me know that everything was going to be okay, and I wasn’t alone. In the past, I would have had to live with these feelings on my own, unless I was lucky enough to have some abuse support group in the very small town I live in. With social media, I was able to find others that could give me tips and support as I navigated my way through a tricky situation.
Social media also played a vital role in getting me out of my abusive situation. I was able to use my phone in silence, while locked in a bathroom, as my ex-husband yelled and hit the door. Via Facebook, I could message friends, asking them for support and help to get me the hell out of there. n the past, I would have been alone in that closet, praying to God that someday I could escape. I would have missed out on the hundreds of supportive messages from friends and family that ultimately gave me the strength to walk out of that closet, and out of that man’s life.
#2-Exchange of Ideas
When my mom moved to Wyoming for my dad thirty years ago, they struck a deal that my mom could travel the world with me whenever I was not in school. Pretty sweet deal for me, right?! This massive amount of travel spurred a love of experiencing different cultures and learning about ideas that other countries had about communication, art and entertainment.
That love has translated into a passion for finding out how other communication professionals view social media, and how they use it to enhance their businesses. Through social media, I am able to connect with one my favorite people, Mr. Steve Martin, in England, and exchange blog ideas with him. Steve came from the era of telecommunications, pre-social media, and provides a great perspective to my millennial view of social media.
I also grew up in Wyoming, went to college in Miami, took a job in NYC straight out of college for two years, moved back to Miami and now am in the tiny town of Kohler, WI. Through social media, I am able to keep relationships alive with people in all of those places, that otherwise would have fizzled out. I a mean, how many snail mail letters can you send? And, going to college in Miami, led to hundreds of friends that don’t even live in the US. I am so grateful I have my social networks to stay in touch with them overseas. Some of these overseas friends, are some of the same friends that talked me through my “locked-in-the-closet” moments this past year.
#3- Allowing me to have the best of both worlds
I live in a small town. I cannot emphasize that enough. Coming from seven years between Miami and NYC, it has been quite the culture shock. I happened to move to this small town days after I left my abusive marriage. Without social media, I would have been facing one of the most traumatic moments in my life in a tiny town with strangers. Granted, I would have met some of those strangers and they would have taken me under their wing (which has already happened with or without social media), but there was something about having 24/7 access to my best friend in Georgia, my dad in Wyoming, and my other best friend in Belize, that made that experience just a little bit better.
Social media also allows me to live in this tiny town (which I live in because I work for an amazing global company that happens to be in this small town) but have a global presence. I can still have my blog, and my opinions on social media and positive social influence, without having to live in NYC or Miami. And, if you don’t think my social media presence has had a positive impact on some lives, I invite you to read some of the comments on my blog, or simply follow my Twitter feed. By doing this, you also will see an example of how one can be vibrant on social media, but also be out living life (enjoy the recent photos of my lovely Mr. Spencer at the beach, please).
Speaking of the best of both worlds, social media also led me to a fellow Christian through a Christian platform, that I never would have met without a bit of social involved. We’re able to stay connected while we both lead active lives with stressful jobs in two different cities, all because of social media. Oh, and this fellow Christian and social media user, and I just had a lovely walk on the pier, watching the stars, in the middle of the night. No “missing out on life” there, right?
So, my dear Mr. Turk, before you bash something that you are obviously using to gain your own viral popularity, please understand what that ‘thing’ really is. Social media is a medium that is meant to enhance communication, providing a bridge where there were once gaps. Social media empowers, engages and allows social change like no other medium before, but you already know that, and that’s why you created a video warning us of its power. However, power can always be used for good, or for evil –> It’s your choice. I choose to use it for a higher good, while you choose to bash it for a lesser evil. I hope that you can take a look around your social networks, and start seeing the good creates, as well. You could be using it for such a higher purpose.
The Hated Social Media Addict
-Marji J. Sherman