Social networks are brilliant creations. They keep the world connected in ways that people never thought possible. They’ve created new venues of getting your voice heard, your talent noticed, and a plethora of other great things. They also have a downside. Scandals get out quicker. If you mess up at a concert, expect it to immediately be up on YouTube. That’s just part of the culture we live in. You know what one of the best parts of these networks is? They’re voluntary.
You’re not forced into a social network online. You exist in one daily, through human interaction, but that’s something that’s incredibly hard to get rid of; short of isolation or death. The online one? Those are something you have to choose to join. Also, you get to choose the people you follow, friend, and generally connect with on these networks.
I am a member of a bevy of social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare; I love ’em all. I also love debate. I love figuring things out, forming an opinion, and then voicing/defending it. Robert A. Heinlein once said, “I never learned from a man who agreed with me.” I see debate as a way of sharpening your own beliefs. If you’re right, it gives you a chance to teach. If you’re wrong, it gives you a chance to learn. All men do both.
Social Networks are a platform that can utilize these debates. If someone tweets something I can tweet back at them and reply until we figure something out. I love this. Anyone who follows us can see the debate and potentially learn something from it as well. Anyone can voice their opinion in the debate. It’s FANTASTIC.
A lot of people apparently feel differently, and that brings me to an earlier point; participation is voluntary. You don’t have to follow me. You don’t have to friend me. If you don’t like what I say, you can hide/block it. I don’t screen my followers. There are so many different options to utilize before you get to, “Twitter debates aren’t cool.” It’s a public forum that’s completely participated in by choice. My self-esteem can take you not following me.
If you don’t like what someone is saying, that’s perfectly fine, but take a second to think about what Mr. Heinlein said. Surrounding yourself with “yes men” isn’t the way to go.