In one of my classes the other day, my teacher was giving us a presentation on Taoism. He passed out a packet of quotes and then started showing us his power point slides. His power point had a lot of different images of water because in Taoism , the Tao is often compared to water. Later in the class, he prompted us to look over the packets he'd passed out. After reading through the packets, he typically has us talk about anything that may have stuck out to us. One of the girls in my class, raised her hand and asked about the prayer he had put on the first page. He'd picked the prayer specifically for our Taoism unit, and the speaker of the poem was asking that they learn to be playful, relaxed, and carefree as a child because in doing so, they would "achieve the harmony of heaven." Above this prayer was a excerpt from the Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, and it's last line was "become a child once more." My teacher talked about how a child can go outside and just be happy with a stick for hours. When he said this, all I could think about was how untrue that had become.
After class, I spoke to my teacher, saying that I felt that to be like a child was no longer what it used to be. I brought forth the idea that early introduction to social media was becoming a changing force in the world. A child now is not what a child was. He told me I'd made a very good point, and then I had to go, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. As Teilhard de Chardin predicted decades ago, our world has become united by an intangible force, and a part of that force is social media. Social media does have it's advantages in unification and communication across the globe, but as something so prevalent, it also has its drawbacks.
Social media is serving to shape my little sister and the way she acts, and I'm observing it first-hand. The use of social media allows people to be someone or something completely different. It allows people to filter the good parts of their lives to an eager audience, and at the ripe age of five, my sister is eating popcorn in social media's theater. Unlike the image of a child, that Taoism has given me, she is not someone who would be happy to just play with a stick in a backyard for hours. I will tuck her into bed at night as she's crying because she ran out of time. She didn't do everything that she needed to do that day. She didn't look at everything she had wanted to do on our mom's phone. She just wanted six more minutes on mom's phone. My sister is not like the timeless carefree child. I have seen her seated in front of her pink vanity she got last year for Christmas, crying her eyes out as she says that she's ugly. Everyday use of social media has led her to believe in a world that she wants so desperately to be a part of that she feels she will always be an outsider to. She wants to be like the people she sees in the videos.
I do believe in the good social media can do as a unifying force, but it is also a mask that people put on to put on a good show. It has benefits, but early introduction of social media has dire consequences. Social media has no place among my little sister's toys and pillows. Social media can be an extremely damaging force because it is an edited photo or a cropped video. It's seeing the horizon through a window with the blinds down. You can't see everything, but because of the magnitude it has gained, social media is an ever present force in the lives of so many people. It changes they way we think, and it's transformed the minds of children everywhere in both good and terrible ways. You can't forget to be a child as you grow up, if you forgot how as a child.