We all know the benefits of social media….it connects people quickly and provides a counter-balance to the tendency for everyone to simply live their life as an isolated cog in the machine of society. I have recently seen the very real benefit of connectedness via social media, when a friend was struck by a car while riding his bike and almost died. Social media (specifically FB in this case) allowed good communication and also kept my friend stimulated and connected to all those who cared for him. This was generally a beneficial experience I believe.
Unfortunately there is a downside. This particular downside usually occurs because it provides people with a stage from which to venture forth their ill-considered opinions. In the case of art blogs or art FB pages, you might get huge amounts of positive feedback. Yet a well-placed comment of staggering ignorance can stand out with the power of its opposite : great brilliance, high eloquence, pure insight. For example, I had a comment hidden away in many positive commets that “my three year old can paint better than that”. I had a good laugh. The level of ignorance shown about naive styles of painting and how it interacts with abstraction, was phenomenal.
You also see this side of humanity under almost any piece of footage on Youtube. Pure abuse, ad hominem attacks and vicious denigration of others.
Why does all this matter? It matters because every person living is in an internal conflict between misanthropy and a more positive view of others. What one thinks matters. What you think about others is a major factor in how you treat them. In other words, many of us struggle against misanthropy and cynicism. We all know these attitudes are toxic and self-perpetuating. So its important to live on the bright side in these days of high rates of depression.
Social media can contribute to misanthropy by opening up dialogues with those who aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. Or with those full of negativity. My impression is that by all means embrace the community of social media as a way of connecting and developing as a human being. But beware the ones who are going to bring you down.