There’s always a lot of chatter about how social media makes everything worse. And I get that. You see friends tagging each other at a new restaurant and you wonder why you weren’t invited. Or you see someone you like post something offensive and suddenly you don’t see them the same way. Or it’s used as a tool for bullying. Or other times it simply ignites a bad case of Saturday night FOMO. And don’t get me started on the ugly, hateful, and mean comments that pop up on parenting articles.
The last few weeks social media has had me feeling sad and angry and even though it’s part of my job I’ve been finding myself posting less and avoiding it more and more. Yesterday after reading some particularly nasty comments on a post, I thought enough, what good does any of this bring?
And it makes me sad because social media has brought me so much good. Social media has brought me some of my best friends, a sense of community and this site. Yesterday I remembered this post I had started last month about some good in my life that came out of Facebook and I thought I would share it as a reminder that there is still some good that can come from social media.
About a year ago I saw a post in a local Facebook group asking where is a great place to live in our area. I commented that I loved my neighborhood and named the development. A mom responded that she lived there as well. We became Facebook friends, she started reading my blog and for a year we had been trying to meet up. Through Facebook we learned that we both have sons, we both love Disney and both enjoy a good cocktail.
It took a year for us to meet in person even though she lives a block away. She came over and our sons played and she got to hold Grace and we became friends in real life. We both couldn’t believe how crazy it was that we met through Facebook even though we lived just a block apart. We decided that there must be a lot of people in our neighborhood who don’t know each other. I suggested starting a Facebook page for our hood and my friend set it up.
Within hours neighbors were introducing themselves, getting to know each other and making connections. Turns out a bunch of us went to the same high school. Some had been here since the neighborhood was built and were full of gossip and stories. Others were new and excited by the idea of getting to know each other. It was heart warming to see all the connections. There was even talk of a neighborhood party.
And I loved that feeling. The feeling that comes from bringing people together. I loved that people were talking and connecting, even if it was over the internet and not in person. I get that these days most people work and there aren’t as many opportunities to just run into each other in the neighborhood. That our lives are all busy. But that Facebook group gave us a place to get to know each other.
The next day I put Grace in the stroller and Elvis on his leash and went for a walk. Maybe I was just imagining things but the neighborhood suddenly felt like a friendlier place. People smiled and waved and as I walked around I thought to myself “oh so that’s where they live” or “I didn’t realize he lived there”.
My new neighbor friend and I met up a week later and had some wine at a neighbor’s house. We talked and laughed and I was so happy that Facebook brought me that friendship and helped bring my neighborhood together.
And I hope, we can all remember that social media is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to bring people together, it’s a place where we can find community and support. That friendships can be built online. And that if you see something you don’t like or that makes you angry remember if you don’t have anything nice to say, share a cute cat meme.