Publisher’s Perspective: The world we live in
It has been a while since I wrote a column. When I woke up Monday morning to the news of the tragedy in Las Vegas, I made mention to our editor that I felt like I needed to talk about what we as Americans (or simple human beings for that matter) have endured over the past month or so. From hurricanes to protests to earthquakes to the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history, it has certainly been heavy handed.
When I thought about all of these things together, as well as the conversations around them, I pondered what this latest act of violence piled on top means for our children and the world they will grow up in — and it terrified me.
I am a father of four and I cherish my children (when they don’t irritate me) and my family. I am the grandson of a former pastor so I was born into a faith-centric environment. While I have not (and will never) lose my faith, what we’ve experienced over the past few weeks sure doesn’t make it easy. Here’s what I mean:
Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology for the way that their work has divided people rather than bring them together. I commend him for standing up and apologizing, but it doesn’t change the fact that social media as a whole (and technology) have deteriorated our society so much that I don’t know if it’s salvageable.
So while nice, I can think of a billion ways that it’s not going to change dramatically anytime soon.
Technology and social media have become drugs. I’m addicted. Many of my friends and co-workers are addicted. Even my oldest son is addicted. As much as I want to peel away devices from their clutches, I know it has to start with me.
I don’t have the solution that can tell me the best way to handle it. However, I do know that I can still teach my kids the right way to act. I can instill in them the importance of kindness and giving. I can teach them right and wrong ways to treat someone and how to talk (yes, talk) to people without using a device. But is that enough?
With social media we have created platforms where people have free reign to spew hatred, and it’s accepted. Yes, I used the words hatred and accepted. How you may view that word compared to others is for sure different, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen posts or comments with people immediately bashing its content (even if it’s trying to be positive) and the person delivering it or contradicting their opinion.
There are always people who have negative things to say. We’re fostering the behavior that it’s OK to bark venomous words and we’re giving them the fire to throw their embers on so that it continues to burn bigger and louder.
For our work in the media industry, social media and technology are necessary evils. I love the fact that I can get news updates instantly and am informed on the topics and people who are important to me. But when I see people taking advantage of that and trying to capitalize on the shootings in Vegas, it disgusts me.
What kind of people would use a fake person and claim they were missing as a way to gain social followers? It happened. As much as it is inconceivable in my mind, that behavior was made possible because of social media.
Looking at examples of Russia trying to manipulate people’s reactions and how fake news is consumed and taken for the truth, is that too different from what cults do? Social media seems to foster cult-like behavior. While I’m not suggesting social media is a cult, although some may chastise me for doing so, I say this to prove a point: We are all so caught up in being angry and argumentative using a computer screen as a shield that we are completely oblivious to how people react to the words that are read. We’ve forgotten what it’s like to treat people with decency.
There was an outpouring of love, thoughts and prayers to the victims of the Vegas shooting as well as the survivors of our recent hurricanes. But as immediate as this was, what was also immediate was anger. For every statement about concern came argumentative chatter about guns.
This is not an article about gun control. This is to point out that in the face of healing and understanding, there was immediate reaction to yelling at the NRA and the government and ridiculing people who support gun laws who were giving condolences. Really? Can people not offer thoughts of support if they own a gun or support the Second Amendment?
Again, I don’t want this to get into a political discussion. My hope is that we can be self-realizing to a point to where we can perhaps find ways to say things differently. As a media outlet, we want civil discourse — to a degree. Let’s talk about the situations at hand and while everyone may not agree, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t listen and treat others with a common courtesy, no matter how much you don’t like what they’re saying.
I realize that my opinion wandered all over in this column. But I want to leave you with this: when my grandmother, who is 91, is asked what the secret to life is, she always responds with the same thing: It’s the three Fs. Faith. Family. Friends. Everything else is secondary.
She’s right. If we cannot figure out ways to build honest and positive relationships, and teach our children to do the same, I fear for the world that they will live their lives in.
So if you have it, keep your faith. Perhaps together we can build something for our children to look forward to, not despise.
Publisher Rob Galloway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-8046.