True confession: I am not a Facebook user.
Fortunately I have friends who send interesting tidbits they think I might find useful for the newspaper. The following Facebook post from Joe Hendricks Feb. 26 had me smiling from ear to ear:
“Yesterday my friend Ron and I were solving all the world’s problems in front of my fireplace. And then the topic of our local Key Pen Newspaper came up–––we were both bragging about how refreshingly different it is from most media! The balance between uplifting, inspiring stories as well as sad news. Stories and event calendars that encourage locals to get out to help and enjoy each other. Stories of practical use that help citizens handle property or business frustrations instead of just instilling anger. Love the KP!”
A print version of Joe’s Facebook post lives on the bulletin board above my desk. It’s why our staff loves being part of the Key Peninsula News team and reminds me, as editor, of the importance of balance in our lives together as a community.
Most of my extended family uses Facebook, some with greater abandon than others. After years of badgering, I succumbed to the pressure and briefly had a Facebook account. I admit, at first it was fun but overall it wasn’t my cup of tea. It was about that time I learned the letters TMI stood for “too much information.” I deactivated my account after seeing people I genuinely like posting things they would never think to share face to face in a social setting, at least I hoped they wouldn’t. In my neck of the woods we call that “dogs behind a fence syndrome.”
Great good has been accomplished through the power of social media and to a certain degree it is the great equalizer. In theory, any of us with a smartphone has access to the exactly the same tool as the President of the United States to get our messages out––raw, unfiltered and unvarnished. When you stop to think about this, it’s quite amazing. Granted, more people care to “follow” those who wield great power and influence, but the tool to deliver a message is essentially the same. One smartphone, a short message and maybe even a hashtag and you too can tweet. Well, you’ll have to sign up for Twitter, but it’s free, right?
As Ted Olinger wrote in “Following Things on Facebook? Facebook is Following You, Too” (KP News, January 2018) our online privacy is far from assured.
Free search engines, email and social media come at a price. A day of reckoning is near as both Facebook and Google’s business models face intense scrutiny by users. It remains to be seen if technology is seductive enough to make us sacrifice our private thoughts for the convenience.
Heartwarming social media success stories are all around us. KP Facebook groups like the one moderated by Susan Freiler Mendenhall do a fantastic job helping to strengthen our community, free from hateful rhetoric.
And yet social media cannot take the place of journalism. In the thriving economy of Puget Sound, newspapers struggle to survive. Consolidation brings fewer local reporters, fewer relevant stories, and eventually no newspaper at all. Journalism is fundamental to democracy. Local community newspapers with strong journalistic ethics matter more than ever before.
Several folks have commented to me lately that people seem to have forgotten how to communicate with anyone who doesn’t already agree with them. As a society, this is not a good thing.
It’s no news that politics and religion divide people. And yet time and time again, I see the strength of the Key Peninsula come together to make life better. Our nonprofit groups have formed to help bridge our divides, to care for each other in times of need and in times of plenty. Both exist simultaneously on the KP. Our physical location divides us from the mainstream and, frankly, I like that.
The Key Peninsula News strives to give readers something to think about. We want to bring you the richness of our community. We want to spark conversation in our own backyard. Real communication begins with three equal parts: speaking, listening and considering. And yes—please keep reading too.