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I will lay me down

Tom Sullivan

June 14, 2016
Tom Sullivan

I was moved by the video of the London Gay Men’s Choir singing this familiar refrain from Simon & Garfunkel’s classic as they honored the victims and people of Orlando in the wake of Sunday’s horrific attack by Omar Mateen.  When survivors are asked by the media to make sense of it all, common themes emerge.  “We have to come together.” “We have to protect each other.” “We have to do a better job fighting hatred.”

In Orlando, one female survivor was grateful that a larger man shielded her body as she ran away to escape the gunman’s aim.  This man literally had her back. There were many stories of heroic acts like this.  What if everyone had their neighbor’s back when it comes to their use of social media?  How can we use social media as a force for good? What can we learn from these survivors?

Survivor: “We have to come together” – Let us seek understanding and unity.  Let us seek the fundamental points of fact and truth that can become the building blocks of understanding.  Finding areas of mutual agreement builds trust, removes excessive emotion and creates more productive dialogue around solving problems.

Survivor: “We have to protect each other” – In communications and in everyday life, our first priority should be advancing the best interests of others.

Survivor: “We have to do a better job fighting hatred” – We can do this by serving those who are hurting and being inspired by these words:

I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

I believe that social media would be more valuable to our society if users were motivated by the principle of other-centeredness: placing the best interests of others over self-interest.  Other-centered social interaction would seek to edify the social community with positive communications, fact-based information, opinions expressed without malice, and a desire to advance the common good.  Arbiters of social media must also be vigilant about fighting messages of hate.  We can mitigate hatred with reasoned understanding, other-centered motives and human compassion. Let’s use social media as a force for good.