As long as you are using it in healthy ways, spending time on social media should not be a problem for you. Unfortunately, many of us use social media in unhealthy ways. Rather than using social media to pass on ideas and information that has been thoroughly researched and vetted, we simply pass on whatever information suits our personal agendas or that seems cute or funny. We use social media as a means to attract attention and fill our need for a self-esteem boost. We play out our drama for the world to witness on social media. We post pictures of our families on Facebook, but fail to pay attention to them in real life. We'd rather post memes that mock things that we don't understand rather than educating ourselves. We seek advice on things political, medical, and scientific on our social media feeds that are full of people who are an authority on none of these things.
The overall result of all of this is that society, in general, is becoming less respectful of science, intellect, the formation of positive relationships with one another, and healthy discourse. This trend towards crassness and anti-intellectualism has permeated the political process in our country and infiltrated our schools and media. So, what can we do to fix this? Mostly, we can find ways to be genuine and honest on intellectual and emotional levels. Here are a few steps that might help.
Focus on Becoming Genuine
There's nothing wrong with being quick witted or having a dry sense of humor, nor is it a problem to be a true believer in something. The problem comes when social interaction and communication goes no deeper than that. Social media can be a great thing. It can and has been a platform for important change. If you want to be a part of that, break your addiction and approach social media in an honest and genuine way. The more honest ways that successful people find to communicate the better off they are.
Learn to Embrace Original Source Material
Social media is full of information that has been passed on from one person to another without validation. Even worse, some of the things that are passed on fragment all of us and push forward ugly or ill-informed agendas. Sadly, biased blogs, memes, and hack journalism have become our sources of information. The result is a true dumbing down of our society.
What's the fix for this? Use original source material to uncover the facts. In many cases, bad information contains a tiny nugget of truth, or at least some information that can lead to the truth. For example, there might be a statistic that has been cherry-picked from the original source, or a quote that was taken out of context. This information can be used to trace things back to the original, often academic source where the facts reside. You'll be surprised at how often original source material contradicts what is being passed around as fact.
Debate Issues Not People
When did the personal insult become a valid debate tactic? When did a politician's appearance become proof that their policies were flawed? All it takes is a bit of scrolling and almost all of us can find a debate on Facebook that his degenerated into insults and name calling. The same is true when it comes to the comments section of many blog posts. Worst of all, many of us have been driven to participate in this.
What's the cure? Making a commitment to focus on debating the issues not the people involved in the debate.