Social media is great! Social media is awful!

Both those statements are correct and we’ve witnessed that since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25th.

Let’s start with the obvious.  Twenty years ago we would have never known about the brutal way in which the 46-year old died because we didn’t have smart phones with the ability to shoot video.  That deadly confrontation would have likely come down to a question of who do you believe, police officers or civilian witnesses.  You can be the judge on that one.

So what happened ten days ago was not only recorded by a person at the scene but then shared via social media and it spread like wild fire.  It is that video that has led to the arrest of four police officers, one charged with second-degree murder and the other three with aiding and abetting second degree-murder, all felonies that could send them to prison for up to 40 years.

Of course since then the news cycle has been dominated by protests, demonstrations and marches most of them peaceful but clearly some that have gotten out of hand.  It is social media that has rallied people to take part, telling them where and when to meet.  It allows people to communicate faster and more easily than ever before.

There is also a downside to that. It allows rumors to spread quickly and they are often based on fiction and not fact. In the past few days we have witnessed that in our area and it’s led to unnecessary fear.

The problem is that any one person with bad intentions can use social networking sites for negative purposes and again because of speed in a manner of minutes it has been shared and seen by thousands.

Social media is great and it’s also awful.