Monday, 15 February 2016

"Social" social media - ramblings

Today I got a blasting on Twitter - and rightly so. I corrected someone's tweet with a workable link with the best of intentions but I realise it came across as patronising and inappropriate - especially as the tweeter was in the midst of a debate with someone who was trolling them. I apologised, deleted the tweet and was on my way, learning a valuable lesson that social media is not to be dealt with flippantly, people's thoughts and feelings are on the line.

Social media brings out the best of us and worst of us at times. It reveals what we want it to reveal - and what we we don't - whether we like it or not.

It brings a feeling of false familiarity which to a non-social media user can seem almost perverse and surprising - and so it should, a person who has decided to share some facets of their life doesn't make the reader of it their friend. And that is where the said reader needs to understand that.

Indeed over time, allyships and friendships may be formed - but where do we learn that? How do we know that? Who out of both parties has the right to declare it a friendship? Sometimes it may feel like a club, a clique, a high-school-like society - but who sets the membership criteria?

YouTubers, singers, actors, famous-for-famous-sake celebrities may call their "fans" their "friends" but there needs to be a clear distinction - a lot of the time these people would not invite you or I for a drink or bite to eat if they saw us in the street. Some people have made social media their business/livelihood and the illusion of friendship their key commodity, time will tell how that pans out.

In the UK (and US I think) today two celebrities Stephen Fry and Kanye West have been lambasted and defended in equal measures for their rants, exits and thoughts on social media. One has decided to drop themselves out. To some, social media can be a pain. It has, some people argue (including Stephen Fry) become more of a battleground than a sanctuary for expressing thoughts and feelings on personal issues or observations on societal traits. For others it has become a way of emboldening and empowering in the midst of discovery and kinship.

I still think social media can bring out the best in us, I've come across beautiful artwork, blogs with words that dance on the page leaving you feeling giddy with excitement that this is the era in which you're alive - and places where people have had the courage to share with you their pains and problems, somehow leaving you with a sense of togetherness that your problem can be shared too.

Social media is evolving - and the definition of social continues to be blurred. Whether it's done with reckless abandon or careful self-examination, in the end, we all seek that sense of understanding - and love.