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Instagram is becoming far more interesting to me than Facebook.

Why? The former is a photo-

centric social media platform that, at least in the way that I've used it so far, gives me glimpses into the lives of friends and family that seems much more "real world" than what I see these days on Facebook. People post photos of them getting out and doing things, particularly in the beautiful outdoor settings of Northwest Arkansas.

Maybe I'm just more visually entertained, but its concentration on images rather than text let's me see how other people experience this wonderful planet of ours. There's more humor there, too.

Facebook sometimes just wears me out. More times than not, I close it feeling more discouraged about who we are as a society, how we're willing to treat others and how limited our capacity for engaging in respectful discussion has become, at least in the realm of social media.

Unfortunately, I think that carries over into day-to-day interactions.

It seems social media is a disaster for meaningful discussion, in that the comments often appear to be a race to the bottom, quickly moving into insults or remarks that come across as angry.

When the concept of social media came along, I held out high hopes it would be a new tool for engagement. And it certainly is. I'm just not sure how much positive comes out of it.

In the last few days, I've seen a lot of posts in which people posting messages emphatically explains their viewpoints, then tell others, in essence, to shut up. "I don't need your excuses or justifications," they remark.

This is happening in a platform that already has a tendency to lead us down the rabbit hole into what people refer to as echo chambers -- essentially becoming megaphones amplifying a message to an audience already likely to hold similar views. Even in that environment, people I've seen lately still feel the need to put up blockades to differing opinions.

Who really wants a challenging perspective that offers a counter to our own views, right?

We live in an age of pronouncements and entrenchment, not discussion.

That's why I'm convinced social media is not where progress will be achieved. And I'm concerned people's experience in social media leaves them a little fearful to express themselves honestly in face-to-face discussions. The concept of agreeing to disagree, politely, may be lost in all this 24/7 interaction.

That's not to say social media is worthless. It has connected us all to one another in ways none of us could have imagined 20 years ago. It is a tool that, used effectively, can be a resource for a great deal of information.

It's a great mechanism for promotion. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette promotes news, sports, features and other stories through social media. When I post one of my "Speaking of Arkansas" podcasts, you can bet I'll use social media as much as possible to inform people what it's about and where to go listen to it.

Indeed, today we have a whole world of information available at our fingertips, on pocket-sized computers more powerful than room-sized computers were just a couple of decades ago.

But whether it's Twitter or Facebook, when I'm done I sometimes feel like I've just come out of a room where a bunch of clowns are engaged in a pie fight rivaling the one Laurel and Hardy went through in "The Battle of the Century." No matter how one tries, there's no way to emerge unscathed.

At least pie can leave a good taste in your mouth.

Commentary on 08/11/2019

Print Headline: Social media like getting pie in face

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