Reflections on Social Media

Ian Gilman
3 min readDec 28, 2022
Image by author, including photo by Alina Grubnyak

Is social media good or bad for you? For the world? I don’t know, but I’ve got some thoughts on how it fits into the Planetary Era transition and how you can make the best of it.

We have a lot of problems in the world, but the root of almost all of them is cultural. We know how to solve climate change, for instance, except for one “little” detail: coordinating the actions of 8 billion people to actually implement the steps needed!

This is the first time in the history of humanity that we’ve had a need (and the opportunity) to work together as a whole planet, and well, we’re not very good at it yet. This disharmony is echoed all throughout society. It feels like we’re going backward, but I think it’s a necessary step.

The societal harmony of bygone decades was basically built on a certain class having their way, and everyone else keeping quiet. Now we all have a voice, which is an improvement, but many of us have no idea how to use it, like Tetsuo in Akira, lashing out and destroying things when he could be using his newfound power to help the ones he loves.

You know when you decide to clean your closet, and the first step is to pull everything out onto the floor? It sure doesn’t look cleaner! But it’s an important step. That’s where we’re at right now with global communication. Hopefully we survive this stage!

Social media is big driver of this situation. Having instant access to the thoughts and opinions of people across the globe is fantastic, but it’s also dangerous. It’s like those movies/books where somebody suddenly gains the ability to read the minds of those around them, and they are driven insane by the cacophony.

The thing is, if we each want to do good in the world, we have to maintain enough sanity to act. Too much overwhelm, and our fight/flight/freeze instincts kick in. This is what it means to be triggered, and when we’re in that state, we are more likely to trigger other people, creating chain reactions.

So, the first step is to “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” Curate your info diet so you remain informed without being overloaded. There’s a lot of good going on in the world, and it deserves attention, just as much as the bad needs resistance. And don’t just follow news and trending topics… get into your own niche interests as well.

Once you’ve got a more healthy info diet, you can use your clearer head to help make the world a better place. There are a million ways to go about that, but as I said, my feeling is we need to be moving the global community towards harmony. One group that I really admire in that space is Braver Angels. Of course we can all also do it little by little with each interaction we have with someone. My father’s teachings relate to that as well.

One of the big problems with social media is it’s too easy to share information without context, and context often makes all the difference. One thing we all can be doing is becoming “agents of context”, helping to find and share important context where it’s missing.

I probably should stop for now, but it’s something I think about a lot. I’d be delighted to continue this conversation. What are your thoughts?