I had an English teacher in high school who taught a course called “Theater of the Absurd.” That was an influential class for me, reading plays by Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and others. It got me to look at the world differently, and it helped me find words for strong, but often unexpressed thoughts and feelings. Not many years ago I found that teacher on Facebook and was able to tell him how important his class was to me. As it turned out, not long after we reconnected, he died suddenly. Unexpectedly. But I’ve been grateful ever since that I had the opportunity to let him know how meaningful his work had been.
Facebook has allowed me to stay connected with old friends I’ve made around the world. Twitter has made it possible to make quite a few new and interesting ones, including some of you. Most of these remain in the virtual world, but very occasionally it has led to a real-world meeting and an opportunity to work together. Without social media, we likely never would have known each other or discovered that we had so much in common.
There’s plenty of talk about how social media has amplified our differences, given a platform to voices determined to spread hate and do our society harm, and given rise to personal attacks that can destroy individual lives. I certainly concur. In its addictive power, it also can distract us from those closest to us, affect our moods, make it harder to get enough sleep and cause us to miss the real world right outside our front door. I confess that I’ve been affected in all these ways. (Yes, I need to stop staring at my phone so much.) But I’ve also seen its power to share knowledge, build community and expand understanding.
What about you? How has social media affected your life, for good or ill? Do you have a story to tell or an insight to share? As always, I look forward to hearing about your experiences—and our opportunity to learn from each other. And please do remember that this comment section is not a place for personal attack.
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