I love social media. I use it as much to promote my business as I do social interaction and connectivity. My “friends” lists are a colorful patchwork quilt of personalities beginning in grade school up through my career stops; sprinkled with the friends I collected through decades of dance. Extended family members reach from coast-to-coast, the numbers growing as nieces and nephews get married and have babies. There are people as random as the young guy I met on a train from Chicago to Michigan. My social media world is a funny, quirky collection of windows into other people’s lives.

As fun as it is, I’m beginning to feel that there may be a dark side to all of this connectivity. There’s a trend that I’ve noticed and I’m not really enjoying it.

30316912_sI can no longer stand by and say nothing.

Social media provides everyone with a voice; a personal broadcast channel with the potential influence that follows. That’s a really good thing most of the time but let’s face it, not everyone acts with the highest intentions when it comes to what they post on social media (or in real life for that matter.)

I have grown weary of the promotion of everyone’s politics, religion, ethnic and sexual orientation with the harshness, criticism and even censorship of anyone with a differing perspective. As our country celebrates another birthday, those freedoms that America stands for are beginning to be undermined by by the strident, anonymous bullying which has nearly divided us into groups who hate each other. It’s ugly and disturbing.

To me, all of the negative social chatter is draining. It’s hugely unproductive. It doesn’t move relationships forward. It only serves an aberrant ego with a new-found voice that demands to be heard.

One of the greatest life skills I ‘ve learned as I’ve matured is the ability to say nothing at all in situations where there really is more to be said. Instead, I take it all in and just smile. I don’t always feel the need to defend or deflect every statement made online or in person. It really isn’t necessary that I have the last word or to be right in every situation.

Wouldn’t life be more joyous if we spent our time together focusing on the ideals, values and experiences we share with one another instead of those that divide?

“Hey, here’s what I really like about you…!

Just sayin…

While you’re having your barbeque with family and friends this holiday weekend, take a giant step backward and take in your surroundings. Savor the moments with the people that you love. See them for who they are; for the experiences that connect you. Say nothing. Smile. And with that, you?ll have said all that needs to be said.