When you look up “community” or a “sense of community” you find:
“A sense of community is the feeling that members have of belonging, the feeling that the members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that their needs will be met through their commitment to be together.”
So when you join social media groups in your community, you go there hopeful there is an actual sense of community. A lot of times you find that, but other times you find groups that make you shake your head.
Some local groups that have made me shake my head in the past about what they allow to be posted. So given what we have seen unfold in this country lately, especially the assault on the United States Capitol, do admins of said groups have a greater responsibility to say keep the peace? And will platforms like Facebook take greater steps to address preexisting issues like stalking, bullying, and harassment?
Recent events have opened up conversations about First Amendment Rights in groups on social media platforms run by private companies. It’s not so difficult to comprehend the nuances unless you are being deliberately argumentative or obtuse.
Yes we have First Amendment rights, but we are on platforms hosted by others. If these others have rules, it’s their platform, not ours. We do not have inalienable rights to disregard their parameters. It’s their site, they just allow us to be on it.
Same thing for say closed groups on Facebook. They almost all have rules and they are governed by the rules Facebook tells folks setting up closed groups.
To me the whole argument of “well I can say whatever I want in Joe Schmoe’s group” is as ludicrous as the billboard company owner who used to say they had a First Amendment right to erect giant billboards which always begged the mental visual of them up there with a giant sharpie scribbling away, didn’t it?
I think social media groups have to be cognizant of what gets posted and keep an eye on it. And not just violence, undue profanity, and crazy political. Let’s not forget fake medical advice posts. One of my favorites came from a mom group advocating for bleach baths for kids with skin issues and doesn’t that actually constitute child abuse?
Being an admin to social media groups is like adult babysitting and you learn quickly that there are keyboard tigers who will argue about anything and everything. And then there is the online mob mentality which in my opinion since the onset of COVID19 has also spilled over more and more into the real world. Because social media and living online is not and will never be the real world.
The longer people spend solely on social media and online in general, the less their grip on acceptable social boundaries. You see that with professional and personal relationships.
Fostering a sense of community is a wonderful thing, but we need to keep it real. And we have an obligation to not tolerate sheer ugliness. We have an obligation to shut down online bullying as well, and that has not gotten better, it has gotten worse.
We can do a lot of genuine good. We can pay it forward for positive change in communities. We all just have to try.
Have a peaceful Sunday.