With All Due Respect

Social media has a profound and necessary place in our society. When used correctly, it has the ability to connect people with the push of a button, organize groups and provide insight on topics both general and unique. “Correct” is a very fluid term; what makes obvious sense to me, may be in clear violation to the next person, but for arguments sake I think my perception of “social media” intent is relatively spot on. This world created some of the greatest minds of our generation continues to grow, continues to push our lives forward and expand the sense of connectivity on a minute-by-minute basis.

If I want breaking news, I’ll check twitter. If I want second hand research on a foreign country, I’ll follow a friend on snapchat for updates. If I want to see daily generation gaps, I’ll check Facebook. If I want to slide in a DM, I’ll do it through the Instagram (Lil Wayne voice: Really, not really). Look, these and a host of others are solid uses for these platforms and provide a sort of education about the world around us. At times, they offer a skewed view of reality and a bit more into my friend’s personal lives than I’d hope for, but for the longest, I accepted the good with the bad.

If you’re looking for bad, look at the people I have muted on Twitter; look at the people who constantly take selfie videos with music playing on Snapchat (there is a specific demographic that comes to mind, but I’m not going to mess my thing up); look at those perfectly positioned angles, emotional cries for help and “watch me stunt” photos on Instagram.

While these last few examples have played a role in my cynical social media view, Facebook — the originator — has been the most enduring culprit for years. I used to think it was the moment people outside of college were allowed to set up profiles. I used to think it was the falsely advertised party flyers and subsequent party invites that went out to thousands of people. I used to think it was the moment older people logged on and sent constant updates with the accompanying selfie. These examples come and go, but my current social media struggle is one that gives me pause; one that caused me to actually publish something as opposed to the “one off writtens” found in journals and pen named blogs. It gives me pause because it attacks the very fabric of one of the reasons I originally enjoyed Facebook (social media in general) as I believe it inclines many of us to be a bit more engaged.

While aforementioned engagement is wonderful and necessary at times, what impact are we truly having on those around us? It’s easy to voice your opinion to those people who are in complete agreement with your views. By all means, run up those likes, get a few shares and rack up those “I completely agree” comments. It’s easy to read a headline (not the entire story) and rant to your social network with the passion of Draymond Green playing hypeman for Kevin Durant in the third quarter of Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs. I’m all for the a more engaged society, but its reached a point that this constant preaching to the choir almost seems a bit self-serving.

I’m not innocent whatsoever. I, too have felt those dopamine levels rise when I drop some super woke and engaged post and scores of people on social media respond in kind; however, from an activist and engagement standpoint this is no longer enough.

Oh snap, he’s taking shots at all those habitual facebook influencers? Nah, although I think the term “influencer” will soon be played out like, “vibe,” “lit” and “swag.” These are just my own meandering thoughts, but if you’re this far in you might as well keep going. This shade has a means to an end.

So, you want us to sit quiet when President Donald makes the news? Nah. I want you to dig deep and think, “Does any of this surprise me?” Elections have consequences and I haven’t been surprised once. My friends on the right can blame the mainstream media all they want, but I’m sure there have been moments of, “hold up fam…” Again, not surprised.

”…But I’m keeping people engaged. That’s what’s up. It’s my hope that all my friends develop their own opinion, whether it coincides with mine or not.

I’ve been the only one in so many rooms, it’s almost normal. From Middle School Classrooms to JJ Dinners (Odd how it took this long to stop calling them JJ Dinners, but I digress…) around the state to people who somehow think Nas really won the battle with Hov (He sampled The Doors fam, THE DOORS!), it’s not an indictment of anyone or any system, it’s just my normal. I relish the opportunity to meet people who think differently; it’s been the pinnacle of my on-going growth process. My body of work is nowhere near finished, so if I’m not being checked, if I’m not being challenged, what am I playing for?

Can you talk that same talk surrounded by people who vehemently disagree and actually get somewhere? Tact or shall I say “finessing” is a skill. Finding those commonalities, those bits of humanity we seem to forget about is the most organic way to move not only the needle, but the culture forward. I’ve got friends with views contradictory to mine in ways that scream, “Catch this (figurative) fade bro!” but I’ll be there for every personal win and loss, because our sense of humanity is what matters most.

Once a year, if I’m lucky I get a group of my friends together and it wasn’t until recently I actually noticed the room I had put together. They all don’t look like me, think like me or vote like me, but somehow I’m blessed to be the glue that brings it all together. I don’t see rooms like that nearly enough; once again, not an indictment of anyone, just interesting how those comfortable shells stay the same. Although this is better served for another write-up, just a heads up, diversity is much more than a room full of white and black folks — *Snap.

Challenge the status quo, but do so in an arena where you’ve got to put some skin in the game; where you quickly learn the importance of tip-toeing the line, not out fear, but as a means to an end. I think it’s necessary to build around those who think like you; formulate plans and execute, but the game is being able to do it around people who don’t.