Repeat after me: “Social media is neutral.”

The image above (the source of which I am having trouble locating; I can’t remember where I first saw it floating around the Internet) is a humorous reminder that our knee-jerk reactions to new technology are often found – in hindsight – to be unnecessarily alarmist.

It is particularly ironic that I am writing this because, as my husband (or really, anyone who knows me) will tell you, I have an immediate negative reaction to change. Every time an app updates, or Facebook changes its layout, or I install the new OS on my iPhone or laptop, I insist that I hate it, that it’s ugly, that I don’t need all these newfangled features. In college, before I had a cell phone, I soap-boxed about how pointless they were. Once I got a phone but before I had texting, I ranted about how silly it was: “Use AOL Instant Messenger on your computer, or just call them!” I said. (This is particularly ironic now, since I honestly could not tell you the last time I used my iPhone to make a phone call.) Before I had a smart phone, I waxed eloquent about how it seemed unnecessary: Since I already have a laptop and a phone, why would I need a “worse” version of both of those things? Just this week I was complaining about Instagram: I don’t see what it gets me that I don’t already have on Facebook and Twitter…and by saying that, I prove that I never learn my lesson. See y’all on Instagram in a year.

To my husband’s endless entertainment, I am a “late adopter” (well, technically, I’m probably the “early majority” – check out the technology adoption lifecycle). I miss the way things used to be…and then I get over it. Eventually. It is my tendency to see the negative aspects of change before the positive.

And certainly, there are some bad things about social media/new technology.

But, having made it through my initial resistance phase, I can now see that social media also has significant positive potential. For instance:

This has certainly been only a cursory survey of the potential of social media for good or not-so-good. What do I recommend? Ultimately, I can’t say that my advice about social media is all that different from my advice about life in general:

Maybe you see more bad than good in social media, or maybe you think that my saying there is anything bad about it makes me old-fashioned. But when it comes to social media, there is at least one thing upon which we can all agree: Ain’t nobody on Google Plus.

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