News Through Facebook Tinted Glasses

Full disclosure, I have little knowledge about social media, I don’t have Facebook, Twitter, or Tik Tok, and only joined Instagram because my son encouraged me to take a walk on social media terrain. I took my son’s advice, and I’m hiking the topography of social media, while still stumbling over its rocks and stoney confectionery of “tags,” “blocks,” and “direct messages.” I was apprehensive about what to do, who to follow and how to disable “likes” then I was informed “likes” don’t have an automatic off button, apparently “likes” are a key component of Instagram. I then began to follow a few people: my son, Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, and Wanda Sykes. Subsequently, because I am not cool, nor socially savvy, and have limited knowledge about Instagram, I thought, “Who am I to follow these folks?” They may consider me a reputational hazard, as I’m not religious, don’t have a portfolio, and my “Blackness” has been questioned many times throughout my life, starting with my adoration of the film Xanadu, when I was a little girl. So, I unfollowed everyone except my son. After sharing this with my son, he explained, that’s not how it works. Embarrassed and abashed at unfollowing Michelle Obama, I signed up to follow folks again. My son informed me, they don’t care that I unfollow or follow them. I realized, I am just a plebeian in an empire of social media patricians.

I share this story because, although I do not have the strong foundational knowledge of social media everyone else on the planet seems to have, I do think it necessary, and vital that people take caution in viewing the world through Facebook tinted glasses. We operate in a time when people get their news from social media, even the current occupant of the Oval Office conducts foreign policy, and cabinet changes via Twitter. With America’s democracy on the precipice of disappearance, the results of this presidential election supersedes social media, deserving legitimate journalistic delivery. As algorithms and bots saturate the social media landscape, reporting facts gets confused in the cipher. Let’s be patient, disable our instant gratification button, and allow journalists to report results of the election without social media suffuse.

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