Monday, 21 February 2011

Thoughts on social media

We constantly feel like we are missing out on something; there always seems to be something new that makes us feel that if we could be a part of it, we could maybe be happy, even if only for a short time. With the internet now as common as pavements, the speed at which modern life, and modern trends move can sometimes further the suffocating feeling that you are being left behind, last felt when you were 2 years old and your mum walked too far ahead and you felt the first pangs of dread in the pit of your stomach.

Enter social media.

You no doubt use social media in your life. You are reading this blog after all, and found out about it through your Twitter feed or Facebook timeline. Further than that, commenting or sharing videos on Youtube, pictures on Yfrog or Flickr, sharing links and contents on Tumblr or even voting for a D-list celebrity’s ballroom dancing efforts are all ways you may participate in or use social media.

This may feel like a godsend – finally you can create the headlines, or at least participate in new red top furore regarding the latest celebrity gossip. There is somewhere and some way you can keep in touch with the fast moving lives of everyone else. The trouble with this is that social media is self perpetuating and eventually becomes anti-social.

The ultimate aim of social media is to allow everyone to feel as if they have some semblance of control in their daily lives, which they may feel move far too fast. However, what is often found is that you are spoiled for choice and social media ends up choking the “life” out of your social life and rapes your inbox with thousands of updates and invites to the new social media phenomenon. All conversations and real life interactions either end or start with reference to or involvement in social media or social networking. The art of conversation and debate has been replaced with braying noises, acronyms and reference to internet specific memes that don’t ever work in real life and make you look a bit sad if you bring them

Of course it almost seems a bit nostalgic to explain the positive side of social media. Spreading news of protests in Egypt, Libya, Iran and even the UKUncut and associated student protests all over the UK through social media has been almost crucial to the whole protest effort in terms of individuals keeping up to date with where protests were taking place as well as news from the protests themselves. Social media has also been able to provide an alternate look at what we are being told officially on the news and gives people the opportunity to speak freely, where traditional media has failed them. However, with their being no editors on Twitter or Facebook, and sparse if any moderation on comments pages for newspapers and the BBC’s news stories, people are expected to self edit. Given a keyboard, the internet and anonymity, people can say horrific things and truly speak their minds. For example: