I love social networking.
(You can tell that by the amount of time I spend on Twitter and Instagram)
For me, it’s an ideal way to keep track of the goings-on in the world; I follow news feeds so I see when a story is breaking, I follow celebrities that interest me so I can see what they are working on, and I follow friends and family; it’s an ideal way to keep in touch with them without having to speak to them constantly – how would I know a spider fell in my brother’s glass of water when he was poised to sip from it the other day if he hadn’t put a picture of it on Instagram? I wouldn’t! It’s those little moments in our lives that social networking captures and that we perhaps wouldn’t mention when asked about our day.
Obviously, social networking is also of great use to me when it comes to blogging and I’ve had some great opportunities arise because of it.
Towards the beginning of this year, I wrote a post saying that I had deleted my Facebook account. I stayed off of it for about two months and I didn’t miss it at all, other than seeing the little things that my family were putting on there. They would share photos and I would miss out on them, so I rejoined again. But, because of the politics of social networking, I didn’t feel I could rejoin and not connect with other people I knew on there as I was worried it would look rude. I’ve been back on there around a month now and, to be honest, I barely use it. I probably look at it once or twice a day and even then it’s only half-heartedly, I scroll down about one or two pages, then I get bored and close the app down. I’ve fallen out of love with Facebook and I don’t think I’ll ever get that love back.
With Twitter, it took me a little while to really understand it and the power it holds, but once it dawned on me I was hooked and now I check it numerous times a day. It’s perfect for me and what I want, but aside from that, I also think the attitude on there is much different to Facebook. I originally left Facebook because I was sick of some of the things I was seeing; people saying how wonderful their relationships were when I knew for a fact they were cheating, people putting statuses up purely to get attention, those frustrating “Click Like to cure Cancer” and other chain-mail type items. It drove me insane. Twitter, I’ve found, has always been more laid back. However, there are times on there that it seems to go into meltdown. I’ve watched it happen time and time again and it’s made me realise just how nasty any kind of social networking can be, especially when it can be fairly anonymous like Twitter.
With Facebook, you generally only become ‘friends’ with someone if you know them. Certainly I don’t think many people would accept a friend request from someone they don’t know, but on Twitter, unless you lock your profile, your tweets can be seen by anyone, which is great if that’s what you want. My profile is unlocked and anybody can see what I’m tweeting, but that’s because I want (or need) to be fully visible in order to ensure my blog gets the maximum exposure it can. Any business needs to be visible, because if you lock your profile your tweets can’t be seen and then you can’t progress what you do or push forward to achieve your goals.
Obviously, the downside of being fully visible is that yes, everybody can see what you’re writing, but that means that ANYONE can see what you’re saying. I’ve been fairly lucky in that I’ve only ever had a few people contact me that I’ve had to block. One woman contacted me and was really nasty to me saying that she thought I was pathetic because I love my cats. You know, my pet cats, who I have had for 7-years – apparently loving them makes me odd. Well, I told her where she could go and blocked her. The other person I had to block was much less offensive, but no less odd. He tweeted me out of the blue, having never spoken to me ever before and told me he had fallen in love with me and that he couldn’t keep it to himself any longer. BLOCKED.
Whilst I think I’ve been fairly lucky with the interaction I’ve had on Twitter, I have seen many arguments on there and I’ve seen people being really hurt and upset. I’ve seen people snooping other people’s profiles to see what they’ve been getting up to. I’ve seen people being harrassed and I’ve even seen people becoming obsessed with celebrities because having the facility to get to know about their every thought and movement makes them feel like they know them.
I am always very careful not to give out any personal information online, nor to tweet saying where I am or where I’m going, because you don’t know who’s reading them, but one of the things people always comment and say they like about my blog is that I am completely honest and always completely myself. I guess, for some people, they may feel that I share too much on the sites, writing about the lows as well as the highs, but I’ve always wanted my blog to be truthful and an extension of myself, it’s something I’m passionate about, so to only write about the goods times, or to bend the facts so it seems like I’m never having any low moments just doesn’t seem right to me. In the time I’ve been blogging, my life has seen some major changes and the support I’ve had here and via Twitter has been so huge that it has helped me through some of the darker days. It’s almost therapeutic, like I’m shouting into the void but with the benefit of having reply messages from people saying they are there.
Go back a century and it would have been nigh-on impossible to have a friendship spanning 100s of miles, but today one of the people I care most about in the world lives in Scotland and I have so many different ways to make contact with her that she is never really that far away from me and I have the benefit of being able to watch her daughter grow up even though I can’t physically be with them.
The internet made the world smaller and social networking has made it even more accessible with the option to speak to individual people all over the planet with just a click of a button. It baffles me that there are some people in the world who have this technology at their fingertips and want to use it to hurl abuse at a celebrity for no reason (because what are the chances that celebrity has personally insulted that person? Pretty slim) or to be rude and aggressive to another normal person that they’ve never met, never will meet and have no reason to be speaking to? It seems crazy to me. Surely something as powerful as social networking should be used for good, not to create virtual hate-mobs or vigilante groups, or to tell a celebrity that you think they’re fat?
Social networking, for me, is a wonderful accessory and one that I embrace whole-heartedly, but it seems that for others, it’s simply a way to let the bully inside them escape and to do so anonymously. I am always extremely careful not to say anything on Twitter that I wouldn’t say in real life and I certainly wouldn’t contact somebody and say something to them that I wouldn’t be brave enough to say to their face if they were stood in front of me.
Social networking could be used for so much good – and, by the majority of people, it is – I just wish that human nature in the aggressive minority would stop, think and let those positives prevail.