I saw someone recently say on their website that social media is making us dumber as Americans. My initial thought was, I don’t think it’s made us dumber or smarter, I just think it’s given a bullhorn to everyone and they just expose their stupidity. But reading some of my posts over the years, I could argue it’s done that for me as well. Another quote about social media that resonates with me more is “Social Media is a loaded gun, and it’s always waiting to go off.” It’s incredible to watch how people’s lives can be effected or changed just by saying something dumb on their keyboard and hitting send.
With most forms of social media, I’ve generally been a few years behind in getting into them. I feel like Myspace was a thing well before I finally joined. Same with facebook, twitter, and instagram. And all the new ones that have popped up in recent years, I haven’t even bothered. I’m sure it would be smart from a career perspective for me to get on tik tok or snapchat or any of those type things, but I’m kind of content with my social media life as it exists now. I keep Facebook active but only have close family and friends on there and don’t post all that much. Instagram I don’t have that many folks on there I interact with but I actually like the platform, especially for looking at watch stuff or cooking stuff. Twitter is still far and away the application that I spend the most time and energy.
To me twitter has always felt like a very large living room where everyone hangs out. You can pop in and out when you want, but I feel like I’m just there all day. Each September when I take my vacation I delete the app off my phone and I will grab my phone and go to click on twitter, out of sheer habit, at least ten times a day during that time, only to remember it’s not on there. Am I addicted to social media? I don’t think so, but I’m certainly extremely invested in it. Ok, I’m probably addicted to it. But let me live in denial will ya?
Overall I do think social media has been a net positive in my life. I’ve made some incredible friendships through social media and I feel like I have friends in many parts of the country and world, even though we’ve never met in person. Actually a couple of my closest friendships are with people who I met on social media and didn’t meet in person for years. We’ve since met many times but the foundation of those friendships started from social media.
I owe a lot of my career to social media. I don’t know if we count chat forum’s as social media, but making connections on trackchampion.com and paceadvantage.com helped me gain advice and connections that got me my first announcing job. BetAmerica hired me to do my podcast in 2016 after seeing the Beemie Awards that I did. The quote from the man who hired me was “We want to work with you, pitch us a job.” I mean, nobody had ever pursued me for a job like that. It was always me begging before that. I think social media helped me get both of the racecalling jobs that I currently have, probably as much, if not more-so than because of my abilities at racecalling. So I have a lot of reasons to be very thankful for social media and the connections it’s allowed me to make. It’s changed my life in some very positive ways.
The negativity and bad sides of social media are there. Overall, I think I get very very little amounts of trolling or shit from people on there. I see some friends and colleagues who get endless amounts of people shitting on them, so I feel fortunate that for the most part I avoid that kind of heckling. I mean, I get some, but usually it’s just from anonymous troll types who I just mute or block and then they’re out of my life. My general rule is if my first interaction with someone is a bad one, there’s no reason to think it’s going to somehow get better, so I just mute and move on. Anyone whose first approach to a stranger is being a dick, I mean that kind of tells me all I need to know. I just don’t see any reason to let someone say something that might dictate or effect my mood or how I’m doing. No way do I want to give anyone that power, especially someone I don’t know.
Going back to the loaded gun analogy from earlier, social media scares me in some ways. I rarely comment on serious issues on social media. I’m shocked at how often people will call people’s bosses or try and get them fired because they don’t like something someone said. Believe me, if you’re reading this and I follow you on social media, you’ve said some crazy shit on there. Things I find disgusting and wildly disagree with. But don’t worry, I’m not going to try and take away your livelihood. I have friends I follow who I think diametrically opposite on political, social, and horse racing issues. But so what? I let them say what they want. It’s just words. And if they’re too annoying, Mute City, population one more. I have no doubt lots of people have me muted and that’s fine. I understand I’m probably annoying sometimes. Sometimes I wish I could mute myself!
Anyways, to wrap up, I’ll stay on social media, don’t have any plans on quitting it. My participation in it is less than it used to be and I think that’s a good thing. But I’m grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve met or talked with who have been kind and been a force for positive in my life and the world. It’s a great tool in that way.