Is Social Media Good or Evil?

As a social media strategist, I have always thought as social media as predominantly good, with some negative aspects, but I think the events of the last few days have shown that is not necessarily true.

As shocking as the events on January 6, 2021, I am equally dismayed by the role of social media. Not just that it was used to mobilize a deadly group of Americans into storming the Capitol, but also that individuals believed lies they saw on social media. Half-truths and out and out lies that seem credible.

I recently saw a piece on 60 minutes about Section 230. It states that social media companies can’t be blamed for anything that appears on their site. So basically they have no responsibility for anything that is posted which means lies and incorrect information can be posted without repercussions. Individuals have taken advantage of this loophole to post false and inflammatory information.

But here’s the tough part, how do you know what is true and what isn’t? It’s becoming harder and harder to determine truth from fiction and it is breaking down the fabric of America. We used to call it propaganda, but it has moved well beyond that. Social media is not just spreading ideological lies, but lies about individuals. Lies that in the past, everyone would dismiss as absurd, but now seem plausible. It’s very scary.

But as my grandmother used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” Social media has also enhanced our lives. It has allowed us to stay in touch with far away family and friends. We can share celebrations, trials and losses. And for marketing, there is no better way to get out your message, whether it be new menu items at a restaurant or fundraising for a community organization.

So my goal for 2021 is education. I want to educate businesses how to use social media more effectively and I want to teach consumers how to better determine truth from fiction on all social media sites. I want to encourage grandma to venture into TikTok and teach Gen Z how to manage their social media marketing.

They may seem like lofty goals, but if you’re going to set a goal, shouldn’t it be worth achieving?

Two weeks into 2021, I was ready to pack it up and sleep until 2022, but my daughter said, “Mom, 2021 is a transition year, Did you really think that everything was just going to change overnight on January 1, 2021?”

When did she get to be so smart? So take some dramamine because 2021 will be a roller coaster, but we’l get through it stronger and smarter and ready to face 2022.

Come along for the ride.

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