Another informational revolution
I now can’t imagine my life without Facebook. I am not an addict, I hope, but I like to share stuff with people. I love to post my news, especially when they, in my opinion, are worth people’s attention. Like mushing dogs in Alaska with all its magnificent natural beauty. That’s unique. The trick here is to try it look interesting, a bit like a writing a brief essay with pictures. No pictures – no people’s attention.
By the way, recently I’ve noticed that I started to post too many selfies, even when visiting some cool places. This needs to be fixed.
I also like seeing what other people share. It is my window to the world.
Still, I have no Instagram, for instance. I am no celebrity, so who cares what I had for breakfast? Or how my pet is doing? Or what a nice cocktail I am having right now in a fancy bar?
Sometimes I clash with some of my Facebook friends on political issues. This is bullshit and it needs to be stopped, too. I am starting to feel like a armchair expert and this is no good.
So we’re experiencing another informational revolution. Now many people just do not need traditional media, like TV or magazines. They share their posts, express their opinion, get the latest news. This is a revolution. Political campaigns now also rely heavily on social media and this is the future; less traditional media, more social media.
Still, traditional media is not going to die out. Yes, its role will be decreased. But that’s ok. Some paper editions have ceased to exist. But others survived and are now both print and digital.
Facebook, as my social media, is amazing to me; you are far away, but just one click, and people all over the world can share your experience. That is awesome. You are now the newsmaker. Just try to deliver quality news.
I see, and how does that make you feel?
Asking if Social Media is good for you is a bit like asking if television is good for you.
I would argue that too much of a good thing is rarely good for you. Chocolate, alcohol, and sex are all great when under control and each has the power to destroy your life when abused. I’ll argue that Social Media is no different.
Perhaps we should first step back and look at how it’s designed. Humans are susceptible to small doses of positive reinforcement; we “Like” posts, “❤️” good Tweets and get “Friend” request. The choice of names is no coincidence, nor is it a coincidence that there is no dislike button. All the while we put smiley emoji’s and big thumbs up (there is no thumbs down) on others thoughts. These tiny shots of positive reinforcement are not unlike playing slots. We all crave confirmation so psychologically we can become hooked – and we do.
This system is so powerful that even Facebook says that people begin to believe that their friends lead better lives than they do. Students who consume Facebook but don’t contribute feel worse at the end of the day than students who post to the platform.
From the above you would guess that I think Social Media is bad; not at all. My daughter went off to a college about seven hours away. I would call on the phone and ask all the dad questions and the response was always the same: fine, nothing, oh good. From time to time we would have a real conversation but in general it often felt forced. That was when I first opened my Facebook account. She leads a rich, full life and I can always see what her friends think or what happened last night. Facebook played a positive role in our relationship.
I’m reminded of a meme I saw, ironically on Facebook, showing a modern subway car and a subway car from the fifties. The color photograph showed people looking at their phones and the black & white showed people reading newspapers. Both groups were clearly isolated.
I’ll end where I started: is television good for you? Do you watch Reality Television or Discovery Channel? Two or eight hours a day? It’s a bit like a Big Mac & a dozen Diet Cokes you know; garbage in garbage out. I like Big Macs, maybe I’ll get one.
The positives sadly outweighed…..
I have no doubt at all that social media should be a very good platform for all age groups, for all of society.
For us oldies, it’s pretty easy to use, and for the most part, we can keep up with the youngsters. It can be a fantastic learning resource for us all, a superb cheap way of keeping in touch with loved ones, friends and colleagues, and a genuinely intuitive vehicle for keeping up with what’s cooking on the rest of the planet, and discovering new interests and hobbies. That’s without all your entertainment needs in your hand, without ever having to switch on the television and radio!
But as with any relatively new media, we are slowly finding out that negative issues, and indeed evil ones, can put all the above gratifying notions on the back-burner, while we learn how to deal with some new corrupting, incendiary and malicious developments in social media.
I’ll start with a personal experience – a few years ago, a young member of my family changed her Facebook status to: “in a relationship.” When we next saw her, we said: “Wow, tell us about your new friend!” Her response was one of a horrified young teenager. “How did you know???” Well, because you told the whole bloody world basically……….so a lot of learning/teaching/advising needs to be considered for new and innocent users……
It’s changing social intercourse as well – all of us that deal with teenagers, for instance, will see the huge difference in the way they interact with everybody else. Because, actually, they don’t. Unless it’s through social media. So when Grandpa and Grandma come over for Christmas, it’s a quick 5 minutes of awkward chat, and then it’s back to social media for the rest of the day. Comfort Zone. (I have to admit that me and Mrs B spend our first hour awake with our iPads in almost deafening silence…..)
Sometimes, it seems to be more important to get a huge number of “likes” and “friends” then to be really liked by people in the old sense of the word. Indeed, has the word “friend” changed its meaning these days?
Then, a little more seriously in my opinion, are the Bots and Cyborgs – where people are not what or who they seem and they spread shedloads of disinformation and propaganda through social media. And so many of us appear to be taken in. Maybe it even changes the course of elections and referenda…….who knows………
One of the worst impacts of social media is the ability to anonymously slag off, libel, threaten, and racially abuse and basically cyber-bully. Cowardly, but sadly extremely common. And the rules of libel are the same online as they are in written print. But nowhere near so well policed, I feel.
Even more serious is the grooming of youngsters by perverts and predators. So often, those bastards get away with it.
So what started on a very positive note, has ended on a depressing and indeed worrying one.
We really need to get this toxic and sinister misuse of social media addressed as a matter of real urgency, particularly by the companies providing the services.
So don’t hold your breath……….