Social media is on the tips of everyone’s tongues nowadays. It’s a testament to how far it has come in the public consciousness that to point out even a small flaw in social media is to take a bold contrarian opinion. Count Arianna Huffington in that camp. The Huffington Post might be social savvy, but that doesn’t mean Huffington isn’t aware of social’s pitfalls. Huffington also admonishes the broader media landscape as an industry that worships social media, and in the process has created a vacuum that we fill with information only we care about.
Fetishizing “social” has become a major distraction, and we’re clearly a country that loves to be distracted. Our job in the media is to use all the social tools at our disposal to tell the stories that matter — as well as the stories that entertain — and to keep reminding ourselves that the tools are not the story. When we become too obsessed with our closed, circular Twitter or Facebook ecosystem, we can easily forget that poverty is on the rise, or that downward mobility is trending upward, or that over 5 million people have been without a job for half a year or more, or that millions of homeowners are still underwater. And just as easily, we can ignore all the great instances of compassion, ingenuity, and innovation that are changing lives and communities.
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