Sewing splits with gold vicuna
How a scenic metamorphosis may be the indispensable ingredient of Facebook’s narrative
Image courtesy of Sarah Marshall via Flickr
It is sometimes impossible to forget certain people who have had a mark on you. I lived in Cambodia for 5 years when I was nine and was utterly devastated when I had to leave my best friend. I tried to stay in touch with her over the years but it was extremely difficult. During the lockdown last year, I feigned the courage to reconnect with her on Facebook. A quick search, friend request sent and accepted.
Imagine doing this at the break of dawn with no technology. Not only difficult, but almost impossible especially while across two continents. For me, Facebook has been invaluable in connecting to people who are far away from me. Sure, it has its challenges. The current debate around Facebook and Instagram is not incorrect. But it is missing an important part of socialising and connecting with people. Although Facebook and Instagram, and more recently WhatsApp, have become business platforms they are still socialising daisies with unlimited encouraging promise in this arena.
I am worried that the indispensable benefits of social media will be dwarfed by its transitory shortcomings. I am not arguing that it is completely flawless. I do firmly believe that the behaviours being picked up by teenage girls are indeed detrimental to their mental health and that Facebook needs to tackle this appropriately.
When my uncle found out that my cousin’s classmate was being bullied online, he requested us to come off social media and we did, quite terrified with what was going on in their school. Eight years later, I was in a healthier place to use Facebook and for its best fit purpose.
Unfortunately, Facebook seems to be cracking under pressure, and I believe we can heal it with the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi. It translates to golden joinery. It is basically the concept of repairing broken pottery with gold. The golden imperfections make the piece more stunning and stronger. Perhaps it is time that we renovate Facebook and its position in the realm of social media by giving and having more empathy for ourselves and others.
We may need to involve other stakeholders in this dilemma. Perhaps schools should teach kids how to deal with social media, specifically how to use it safely. Even parents can help with creating a safe environment for their kids to talk about issues bothering them. All of this requires effort which seems to have been missing in this debate.
There is nothing inherently wrong with a knife. Only when it is fisted in a person and not in an apple. I think Facebook should be viewed as a tool. Certainly, people are overusing it and overconsuming it, which will obviously delight its makers, but customers should not be blind to what they are digesting either. More positive voices need to be raised to balance the debate out.
In school I very emotionally wrote an article about body shaming and the inevitable race of being skinny and adhering to certain body measurements and standards. This has been exaggerated on Facebook to a large extent. I am unsure whether Facebook’s aim was to ever have a detrimental effect on girls and their health. I certainly think that the more people come forward with the positive, we can view social media as a force for good, too, instead of beating ourselves up on how much we use it.
It is inevitable that the renovations on Facebook have just begun with its wrongdoings accentuated in the public eye and the wider community raising its awareness of the juggernaut platform. I believe being gentle in the process and allowing ourselves time to reflect on our own behaviour will have a tremendous constructive multiplier effect. Facebook itself has a lot of work to do, but we have a lot to do, too. Especially in developing our empathy and compassion and making sure that we use Facebook to socialise not bully or harass or send out negative messages.
Only when we take the time to embroider our tapestry of bold bright optimistic forces with the guiding intensity of thundering dissensions will we be able to develop and revamp gregarious justice alongside ameliorating social mediums for all.