It’s possible to make choices without being directed one way

Social media has changed the way we communicate, but not necessarily for the better.

I am inspired that you have picked up a newspaper and that you are sharing my thoughts as you leaf through the pages of this age-old medium. That probably means that you are sitting down somewhere quietly, maybe a coffee shop, a living room or a park bench. The point is that you are sitting down and relaxing.

Can you imagine, years ago, if the fad caught on that we would read newspapers as we walked through  the crowds along the street or scanned the sports page as we drove our cars? People would call us idiots and a danger to society. But today, with our magic cellphones, we see that all the time and most folks think nothing of it.

Social media has changed the way we communicate, but not necessarily for the better. Recently, I interviewed a 102-year-old retired school teacher who lamented the “disappearing neighbourhood.” She observed that we daily interact with people miles away we have never met, and yet we don’t know the names of our neighbour’s children.

I started a Facebook page a couple of years ago to promote our new book, but often I rely on others to tell me I have messages on my Facebook page. I am not like so many that cannot go 10 minutes without checking their status. I often wonder why these people didn’t call me personally, rather than send me an e-mail to tell me they left me a message on Facebook.

When I do scroll through the messages, I skip over the serious stuff and ignore the people promoting personal agendas. Apparently, I can unfriend people but I’ll have to get someone to show me how to do that.

I enjoy the jokes and the family updates and I try to make clever or witty replies to other people’s posts. Well, at least I think they are clever and witty. I love the posts like the one that says, “Be aware that not all the quotes you read on Facebook can be attributed to the individual quoted. — Signed, Abraham Lincoln.”

Recently, one of my ‘friends’ asked me to post an inspirational poem. She didn’t say why, but the request came on a Monday morning and often that is when we need inspiration the most, so there was no need to question any further. I obliged and I hope it picked up her day.

I think that we need a site where you could only post happy thoughts or inspirational stories. That would be a perfect social media site, and who knows, maybe it already exists. Certainly, when we are watching newscasts that lead with beheadings, assaults, murders and disasters, but give the positive news five minutes at the end of the newscast, we can all use a little more joy in our lives.

After you finish my column, go to the back pages where the happy stories are, and read the inspiring stories of our young local athletes. You alone are the one who chooses what you want to read and who you want to talk to.

If you have negative people in your life, figure out how to unfriend them. Spend your time with people that make you smile, you’ll live longer. At least that’s what McGregor says.