Tweeting in Turbulent Times?

A book cover from the vaults with a probably tenuous connection to the text.

So where are we a few years in? Three years ago I lept into social media with mixed feelings but, I hope, a little gusto. Twitter was a wild, care-free playground with frisson and edge. Banter and debate. Free-form, high wire and exhilarating. Thrilling thinkers popped up as if from nowhere. Connections seemed like synapses. Fast and sometimes furious. Fun.

Facebook felt a bit like leaving most of the curtains open in the house. A little exposed. And there were cats. Sharing visual material was always going to appeal to a designer and it is the principle pleasure. The term ‘Friend’ became a more flexible term. Though the cats didn’t care. And some great creative allies re-appeared in my life and in back in view from my Dartmoor retreat. I love seeing what they get up to. And seeing pictures of their cats.

Yet, inevitably, social media is swamped with ads, plugs and causes. Mea Culpa, when Heroines & Harridans was published I wanted my fab girls to shine and probably over-plugged it. I felt a certain Twitter finesse slip through my practised fingers. So I do understand that our personal agendas can make us a bit, well, heavy-handed at times. But I do have certain misgivings as social media grows like Topsy – and my worry is not privacy. If it’s private don’t put it out there. Or at least control your privacy settings with common sense.

As a bit of a worrier I do worry about things. More rudeness, often by neglect. I see a lot of knee-jerk opinions, a rush to harsh views before consideration. Zelots playing to the gallery? I fear twitter becoming the town stocks were people are publicly humiliated and pilloried ad hoc. Where rumour and accusation becomes conviction by mob decree. Innocent until proven guilty is still the basis of our legal framework, right?

And it’s not just public figures and trial by (anti-social?) media. I am uneasy with the pressure of ‘Like’ this or you are not my ‘Friend’. Flagging up things you care about is fine but doorstepping like a Watch Tower seller isn’t. ‘Like’/’Promote’/’Share’ this cause or page or you will appear a lesser person is a troublesome proposition to me. I’ll stop before this gets too preachy but just a word of caution; thinking something through before you rush to judgement is wise. Sharing is an offer of choice and should not carry an obligation. And social media is not inherently good or bad. It is a network of pipes through which can pump wine, clear water – or poison.

Some thoughts but not conclusions . . . Isn’t there less discussion and more rigid positioning – or is it me? Do you see a high level of depression symptoms being signalled as I do? In times of turbulent economics and social upheaval are we throwing up answers or throwing in the towel? Do you sense a state of flux, chaos or evolution? How do you see Twitter et al today?

Nothing is permanent except change“. According to Google, Heraclitus of Ephesus said that. He’s not wrong.

7 Comments

  • I do not, shock horror have a Facebook page and I used to love twitter. As I run a business that makes lampshades, interior designers, fit out specifies etc were the natural people to follow- relationships were forged and, ultimately business was done. That was then. Now most folk pin this and that, tell each other how wonderful/gorgeous/special they are and constantly post photos of “amazing” wallpapers. It used to be that I got to know the person/people behind the business but now it’s glossy and cloaked- all very dull as there are very few conversations to speak of just one off remarks. That said, I’m guilty of flippant remarks along with everyone else but I tweet a tiny percentage of what I feel like tweeting but “better not”. This is the first blog I’ve ever commented on as Gary, I always enjoy your twitter stream, i usually need a theasaurus and usually scratch my head a bit but its always interesting and no wallpaper sample photos in sight!

    • Hi there, ShadyLady! That’s good to hear as I go through many quiet phases. And when there’s nothing I want to say then keeping quiet seems just fine. You don’t need a thesaurus, especially as you know what it is! Love of language matters to me. Its nuance, subtlety, clarity. English is the best toy and I am increasingly convinced it is better to talk to each other rather than about each other.

  • Good blog, Gary. Pretty much sums up how I think. I’m studying this stuff (really) at the moment and what’s interesting is that we are learning as we go. Everyone has an opinion about social media but whatever your opinion is there’s one thing for sure: it is not going away. This doesn’t mean that FB, Twitter and the others are ‘permanent’ – other platforms/technologies will emerge and replace them – but the conversation has already begun. There’s no going back. How we all behave on social media is an entirely different matter. I know that I bite back most opinions; even ones you would have no problem with in face to face conversation. On social media even mild opinions evoke harsh comebacks. I’m rambling now so I’ll stop!

    • Thank you Ed, a compliment indeed from a professional writer! I found it countered the downside to village life and came along at just the right time for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love living just off a village but it can be rather inward-looking. Being active on these platforms keeps me in contact and hopefully with a wider outlook. Thank you for taking the time to comment with some of your thoughts.

  • Great blog and I didn’t feel like chucking rotten vegetables at the stocks

    I once likened Twitter to a great pub you find in the middle of the countryside. You tell all your friends about it, who tell their friends and so on and so on! It becomes so popular that the cosy fireplace is removed to make way for a flat screen telly, the unique pub grub is replaced by pseudo gourmet fast food and the stuffed animals are taken away becuase they frighten the kids. You appear one night to discover that you know no one and you are the one who is talked about as the stranger.

    Like the quote says things change, and as a whole new generation of meeja whippersnappers hit the social media arena we can only hope that those who get the subtle art of communication help to guide those who don’t.

    G

    PS I loved your over plugging of H and H!

    • Well said Geraldine! Like I said, it’s a pipe. Not a cause, or compulsory – or even essential. But it is handy and on a good day it’s fun. On a bad day it’s depressing. Like chips.

      My cats can neither slaughter, torture nor eat it. They like to sit on the warm laptop but are indifferent to the software it is running.

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