Why do you share things on social media?

I’ve written before about the issues surrounding comments and the general phenomenon of the polarised vitriol http://www.magsblackie.com/2013/01/25/what-happened-to-civility/. But this is something a little different. This week two of my Facebook friends shared articles that stopped me in my tracks, and not in a good sense. Both were clearly propaganda pieces, and I think the intent of both of these friends was to reveal a little of the ‘truth’. Both pieces were shocking to me. The one was clearly a very distorted version aimed at getting political power. The other, could possibly be true, but the source suggests that it probably isn’t, but again will aid the political campaigning of a particular political party. The problem is that the creators of these political myths intend precisely that they should be shared. They strike the right chord and outrage (of one flavour or another) predominates and suddenly the article goes viral.

So, to return to my initial question – why do you share things on social media? I am prolific ‘sharer’. I have about 20 really interesting Facebook friends – from spirituality, chemistry, education and church circles. These friends post interesting articles and I often share them. But I am discerning in what I share. I won’t share information that comes from dodgy sources. If there is a controversial opinion being punted back and forth I usually try to find something written by the original person – rather than an interpretation of what was said. If that is not possible, I try to make sure that the news source is reliable.

I know that there are a good few people who have long since blocked me from their news feed, because I do post a lot. But I do try to be discerning in what I post. I also have diverse friends and some will appreciate a subsection of what I post, gently ignoring the other stuff. I also post occasionally as a way of archiving something. If it is on my timeline, then I can find the link again.

I guess I am writing this, because I think what I put there matters. It matters because in choosing to post or to gently ignore I am casting my vote in a way. I realise that in writing this I totally open myself up to the judgements of others. But I hope that at least one person will stop and think about which voices they are choosing to amplify and which to dampen.

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