Frankly, it is now impossible to imagine a world before social media.
Facebook and Twitter continue to bring out the worst in us and seem to frame every conversation, especially when it come to politics.
In theory, the platforms are tools for connecting with the world around us or reuniting with long lost friends and distant family.
In reality, the platforms are a means to be as mean as we can possibly be.
We type things, post things, we would never say in person.
And it is normal.
Posting something vile online is socially accepted as perfectly acceptable behavior.
Well, truthfully, it really isn't.
Maybe, just maybe, our persona on social media, the meanness, the vile speech, the hatred is not an alter ego or our uninhibited self.
Maybe the person we are on Facebook or Twitter is our truest self.
Maybe the person you are behind a keyboard or a touchscreen is who you are.
Maybe the super nice person you are when face to face with others, largely is just the person you want people to think you are.
What if social media is not actually the thing that has made society so mean, so vile, so full of hate?
What if social media is simply exposing us, showing us for who and what we really are, with all the layers peeled back and stripped away?
When the public persona is polite, kind, considerate, respectful and dignified and the social media persona is hateful, condescending, critical, disrespectful and just plain mean, rest assured the latter self is the most real self. The filter we put on our words in real-life personal interactions with family, friends and coworkers is just a mask.
The removal of our filters on social media may simply be the lifting of the mask.
What if social media is not us at our worst -- but simply who we really are.
Who is the person you are on Facebook?
Do you recognize that person?
Who is the person you are on Twitter?
Do you even like that person?
Slow down. Read your posts back to yourself.
Ask yourself just what kind of person would write, post or tweet such things.
How would you describe that person if you were the recipient or the target of such a vile comment or post?
Now, apply the same rigors to the things you repost, share or even "Like."
Would you want to have dinner with someone so unfiltered, so vile, so mean?
Now scroll through all your old posts, your shares, your likes, your retweets.
Is this the person you really want to be?
Jim Zachary is the editor of the Valdosta (Ga.) Daily Times. He can be reached at email@example.com