Happy emoticon for social media.

Social Media Diplomacy Test: Kind? Useful? Fun?

We live in trying times. I admit cursing while driving on the Houston highways. But would I say those things if those drivers could hear me? Nope.

Do many people say those things in social media? Yep. Have you? Well, never mind. If you get on social media even once per day, you are subjected to something that will make your eyes bug out, whether it’s related to international news or domestic problems.

At this moment, people are balking over Tom Brokaw saying Hispanics need to assimilate. Ut-oh. This is a tired assertion. After all, many of us whose great-grandparents came from Europe found themselves assimilating. Yep, and many of them already spoke English (like my forebears from Scotland and Ireland) and others learned this second-language over time.

That notion is so thread-bare is didn’t make me flinch, but when he said some people aren’t sure they want brown grandbabies, my jaw dropped. Outrage ensued! And, understandably as that is a genuine WTH comment.

So, using a completely unscientific examination, I scrolled through reaction comments on a news story about this posted to Facebook. Surprisingly, people with opposite opinions on this hot-button issue were not abjectly caustic or abusive. Some people defended the comments, mostly with I-think-I-know-what-he-meant-to-say reactions that acknowledged the comments sounded terrible. Others agreed wholeheartedly with the assimilate part. I didn’t spend all day on this, but it seemed like his specific remarks on intermarriage and “brown grandbabies” were avoided.

To be fair to Mr. Brokaw, he took to Twitter to apologize. Within minutes, we will be on to the next outrage. Frankly, some things going on in our society are outrageous. The question before us now is, so, what are we going to constructively do about these matters?

We can each one of us do, myself included, to foster a better environment on social media?

There is similar to asking before one speaks: is it kind, is it necessary, and is it true? Yes, I believe it is necessary sometimes (but not always!) to engage in political debates. Go ahead. Just be kind and stay in the realm of facts.

Do not allow oneself to be triggered. I just saw a meme about how Roger Stone is being unfairly and that [expletive] Hillary isn’t in jail. I stopped. I got outraged at the false equivalency. I almost commented. I liked a comment debunking it. Then I unliked that comment and scrolled the hell out of there. Why? Because that post is just not worth engagement.

My congressman is active on social media and I do comment, sometimes positively and sometimes skeptically, on his posts. Who knows? He might actually care about what his constituents say. If I comment again, I will try to be mindful to be as reasoned as possible. The other key is fully listening to or reading someone’s comments before getting ready to tear down one thing they said. Listen to the entire content. Consider the whole point.

Another test for you: are you making the best use of your time on social media? If you are scrolling out of boredom, stop. If you are getting consumed in a debate that is not constructive, stop. If you are clapping back at memes, stop.

Make a conscious effort to share in something positive.

Spend less time each day on social media and consciously decide to make it fun, educational and useful. If it is not one of those three, ask yourself if it is worth your time.