Passionate bystanders

Social media has done a lot of things, much of it positive and profound.

As social media has accelerated the dissemination of information, connected people across the globe in previously unimagined ways and  literally fomented revolutions, it’s also provided a dramatically amplified megaphone for the critic, the judge, the troll and those long on opinion and short on facts.

If you have a reasonable number of “friends” on Facebook, or follow even a moderately curated set of folks on Twitter, you regularly encounter people who are outraged at some situation in the world or take to bashing a hapless politician’s most recent gaffe. And if you are anything like me, you frequently “like” numerous do-gooder causes and retweet items that coincide with my strongly held beliefs and values.

It’s not hard to sense the strength of our convictions. Our passion is evident. Often, our world is clearly drawn in good or evil, black or white.

But so what?

Just as we’d never directly confront that “idiot” driver who cut us off–but have absolutely no problem cursing them from the safety our car’s interior–we find it to be so very easy to be the voice of moral authority from the protective cocoon of our social media account.

Teddy Roosevelt famously reminds us that “it is not the critic who counts”, that the credit belongs to those that actually do something. Passion is nice, action makes the difference.

Having tools like social media to express our displeasure to more and more people and to relentlessly hone the image of who we hope to be in the world ultimately means very little.

Without putting ourselves out there, doing the work, we’re all just a bunch of passionate bystanders.

Let’s connect in the arena, rather than on the screen.


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