Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The curse of social media

I sometimes wonder if somewhere around the turn of the century, rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused us all to lose our collective marbles. I am not really sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in the last fifteen years, something rather strange has happened to us. That is the only possible explanation that I can come up with for the seemingly unstoppable rise of social media. Yes, I know I am as guilty as the next person, but it has reached the point where I am starting to think that we all need a good shake and ask ourselves the question "What the hell are we doing".

There are several aspects of social media I don't understand. Firstly, why do we become friends on social media with people we'd cross town to avoid in person? If we find them to be crashing bores in the pub, why do we let them fill up our lives with their inane blatherings?

Secondly, why do we feeel the need to to share our personal details with the world. Just suppose there is a fraudster out there trying to persuade the world that he's you. He's hacked your bank account and he's stumped by the security question "What was your first School?". All he has to do is check your Facebook or Linkedin profile and hey ho and off he goes.

Thirdly, we think it's rather charming that our kids use these social media sites, even though there are plenty who have had all manner of awful experiences as a direct result of doing so. Do you know what your kids get up to on social media? Do you even care?

So lets think of how we use social media?
Linkedin? Well I registered for it because I thought it would open the door to a whole world of marvellous job offers, which would make me a zillionaire. What happened? I ended up getting bombarded with spam, mostly from recruitment agencies who were on fishing trips. A complete waste of time. I had a chat with friends and none of the ones I know have ever got a job via Linkedin. Quite a few have used the old form of social networking, going to the pub with ex colleagues and getting a personal recommendation.

Twitter? Well I only joined Twitter as people kept badgering me and telling me that it would help them know what was going on with my blog. So eventually I joined. It wasn't long before I realised it was a terrible decision. Sadly it is psycholically addictive. All of the people who have something interesting to say, tend to do it very seldom on Twitter. It is full of people repeating things other people have said. Even worse it is full of nasty trolls who have found twitter more entertaining than the sort of mags that Boris reckons ISIS love to read, if you get my drift. I do believe it brings out the very worst in most of us (myself included). Did it make more people read my blog? I've no idea, I am sure it hads probably put a few off as they now think I'm a deranged lunatic, as unlike my blog it is a very fire and forget medium.

Facebook? I joined Facebook to keep in touch with friends I don't see very often. In that respect it has delivered as I have caught up with quite a few I'd lost touch with. The problem is that they now think I am a lunatic, as they often don't realise that the mad rantings I post are just things I find hilariously funny, which no one else does. I suspect that most think I'm an alcohol crazed madman with a seriously warped sense of humour. They get this impression because if I posted the truth "Spent 3 hours trying to decide whether the last chord of the chorus of the new song I'm writing should be a D or an F" or "Spent four hours researching a new blog about Barnet Council only to realise there was no story" They'd think I was the most boring man in the universe. The'd probably be right as well.  In truth, My life swings between wildley exciting and hellishly mundane. In truth the best thing about Facebook are the silly pictures and videos of dogs. Sadly, I've also found out all manner of things about my friends that in hindsight, they probably wish they'd never pasted up. Having a row with your loved one is bad enough, but when you see a friend has shared it with the world, I just want to hide. And that is the real problem, because once you've told the world, you can't untell them.

Blogger? Of all the social media curses, blogger is the worst. Up until 2008, the most I'd ever bothered to write was three verses, a middle eight and a chorus for a few rock and roll songs. No one gave tuppence about my views on anything. I'm dyslexic and I am dim. What do I have to say about the important issues of the day? What advice do I have to give those who run our lives? Well if you'd asked me in 2007 I'd have said nothing at all. Then the madness set in. I started to write this blog and people started to read it. This caused me to do something very dangerous. I started to think about things. I realised that of all the biblical prophets, the one I had most in common was is Adam. He was quite happy pottering about in the Garden of Eden, not really giving a monkeys about anything. Then he bit that apple and the woes of the world were on his shoulders. That is a bit how I feel about blogging. I knew nothing about the Council and nothing about politics when I started to write the Barnet Eye. As people seemed to like the blog and trust my opinions, I felt I had to do the job properly. That was where the trouble began. You see the deeper I dug, the less I liked what I found. But it is like Pandora's box, once you have opened it you can't put the mayhem back in. Or perhaps like your virginity. Once it is gone, it isn't coming back and you simply have to move on to the next phase of your life.

And that is the trouble with social media. You know it is out there. You know it won't go away. You know that however vile twitter is, you just have to have a little peek and see what is happening.You know that you feel so het up about something that you just want to share it on Facebook. These social media companies are making billions. Are they worth the hassle they cause us? I seriously doubt it. I do wonder if we'll ever wake up from this madness, or whether it will just keep getting ever worse.

Interestingly, I previously wrote a blog entitled Social Media is Dead. Just as an experiment I thought I'd google the phrase and see what came up. Interestingly Google doesn't really seem to want to play ball. You'd expect a list of articles and blogs making that claim, what you get is quite different. It all makes me rather cynical. Given the huge amounts of dosh this all generates, could it be that we are not encouraged to think too hard about these issues by the web companies that are doing rather well from it all?

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