Shotgun, you touched on so many issues related to social media. I will try to focus on what I think is your main idea.
I personally value free and open discourse, and there is no doubt social media is a medium that lends itself to that. My issue is with the quality of the discourse we witness on social media. It is illiterate, uneducated, under informed, racist, sexist, homophobic, and fanatical among other things and it is a reflection of society.
Social media and the way we “mindlessly scroll down news feeds” is for many of us a daily routine. American families used to sit and listen to the news in the radio, then the nightly news on TV when they used to have some credibility. Today there is a combination of TV shows that are political commentary or satire dressed up as news. People prefer to get their news from websites or social media through news feeds that are just barely read. We prefer to align with current issues by changing our Facebook profile by adding a flag or other symbol and are too lazy to inform ourselves and actually read about the issues, gather facts, understand causation and effects.
Social Media is a great tool for finding lost friends, know what your social community is up to, where and when they go on vacation, “celebrate” birthdays, share important moments, as well as post jokes, news that are not verified, spiritual phrases, etc. It is not, to my opinion a place for greater social consciousness.
I don’t blame social media for that, just like I don’t blame guns for murders, or cars for hit-and-run accidents. The tool is there, unfortunately we are so easily manipulated and intellectually numb, that we rather pretend we care, pretend we stand for something, pretend we are being socially active, when in reality we are lazy and laying to ourselves.
The few situations when someone posts an intelligent (not necessarily correct) view about a political or current event, the discourse turns nasty, extremist, closed minded, and not as Shotgun would hope where people are forced to defend their ideas, forced to think about it and why.
I have to agree with you Shotgun, I don’t see social media paving the way to a greater social consciousness. Intelligent debate does not result in political activism, policy change, or anything meaningful. It is a minuscule amount of content on social media
I sense your frustration, young one, we are living at a time where we have to choose between two candidates for president that the majority of people would prefer not to vote for. But for ‘the party’ or some other reasons we will end up voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’. If as a country we can’t figure out how to have good leaders, don’t blame social media, just don’t. We get what we deserve, and we continue ‘liking’ each other posts.