Lately, I’ve seen a line of thought floating through my Facebook feed that basically bashes Facebook and the internet, considering the time that people spend online to be wasted.
Allow me to be clear: the internet is a tool, and like any tool, it can be abused.
However, as a tool, it can also be used for the sake of immense good.
Yes, if you spend your life arguing with strangers and looking at pictures of cats doing dumb things with dumb captions, you’re indeed wasting your life.
Do you know what’s also on the internet?
A vast collection of the knowledge of humanity.
To correct the ills of people’s click-bait posts and political posts that will irritate and infuriate people but won’t actually cause them to do anything practical and are probably already blown out of proportion, try these things instead:
Post cooking videos. There are tons of cooking videos available, for free, on Youtube. Recipes of all sorts, and multiple videos of the same recipes. Seriously. Try it. I’ve learned to cook various foods just from watching videos online, something that wasn’t possible when I was a child.
Go to academia.edu and find articles relevant to subjects in our society or just something you find interesting, and post those articles. Seriously.
Or you can even post things from Wikipedia.
Or start your own blog and write your thoughts out. Your opinions, your goals, your dreams.
Or go to DuoLingo.com, sign up (for free), pick out a language, and begin learning how to speak, understand, read, and write another language. Broaden your horizons.
The internet is not some vast wasteland that forces us to passively accept whatever it doles out to us, and neither is Facebook. On the contrary, someone, somewhere, has to be using the internet and posting things for others to consume. Someone is producing the material and putting it out there.
You should do the same thing. Post articles on philosophy. Post videos on philosophy. On politics. On religion. On things that matter to you.
Yale has an entire Youtube account dedicated to its Open Course series, and you can watch entire Yale University courses for free, online.
Someone saying something that isn’t factual or is up for debate? Don’t argue with them. Instead, find peer-reviewed articles, post that, and never say a word. Keep your friend. Hope that they will see the article, and see the errors of their ways.
Make it your personal mission to wake up each day and make someone else’s day better by educating yourself AND that other person by making “High Quality” posts on Facebook. Delve into every subject imaginable, and seek out the voices of people who directly experience things for themselves. Don’t rely on the garbage that so many “news” networks put out. Don’t rely on click-bait trash to tell you about social issues and social justice.
And if you really get froggy, guess what? There are more than enough people of, say, minority backwards who would probably be willing to converse with you by Skype and educate you on issues that you don’t understand. The phrase “white privilege” really make you mad if you’re a white person? How about Skyping with a person of a color who’s willing to discuss things with you and clarify what they mean and asking them to explain it to you? Because I guarantee you that while some people may immediately be on the defensive, there are others out there who are more than capable and more than willing to help you.
Don’t understand what all the Marriage Equality debate is about? Then talk to someone in the Gender and Sexual-Affectual Minority community that can educate you and explain it to you in a way that maybe you never considered.
The internet is a tool, and now I’m telling you that your mission is to use it for the Forces of Good.
Get to work.