Social media / networks - Medium & message

I've always had an interest in technology & am lucky enough to be of the age whereby the internet really came to prominence & made it in to people's homes just as I was about to go to high school. I was also lucky enough to have beast (in size, not power) of a home PC, & managed to convince my mum to sign up to this new-fangled internet thingy via everyone's favourite ISP, AOL(!) - that soon changed! Whereas a lot of other kids at school hadn't really heard of the internet, I was embracing it & using it to research subjects for school & plagiarise utilise the information that I found. The internet soon became part of my daily routine & was a great tool for schoolwork & for socialising (AIM). As I've got older I've been intrigued by social networking sites & have been an early adopter to most of them - including most of the now defunct one.

I've embraced & utilised Facebook & Twitter, using them to get back in touch with people, find people with interests similar to my own & meet new people when I've moved to different parts of the world. I've also re-met people & formed serious relationships, as well as met new people & formed serious relationships (not in the creepy way that probably sounds).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook is now a standard communication tool & Twitter is becoming more & more mainstream as the days/months pass, but it has always, & still does, anger & infuriate me when people complain about them or make the usual flippant comment of "Why would I want to see what every person is doing every minute of the day or what they're having for dinner?!"

FB & TW (as I shall now refer to them) have become monsters & are therefore targets from the media & naive people who believe everything they see in newspapers & just jump on the bandwagon without actually knowing the facts. They have become the new cool thing to complain about.

Like a celebrity about to appear at the Leveson Enquiry, the media hate them as we can get our news in an instant & in a nice, easy to read condensed form - we no longer have to flick through a whole paper or navigate a large, ad-filled website to obtain the stories that are of interest to us. But the media being the media is a complete contradiction in itself anyway - it now sources a large proportion of its stories from social media sites, but will still take every opportunity possible to slate these sites & desperately tries to pick holes in them - again, jumping on any bandwagon possible without actually reporting the true facts - look back at the Facebook privacy issue/debate as an example.

Media aside, what 99% of people who complain about these sites do is confuse medium with message. If you don't want to join these kind of sites & have no interest in them, fair enough. But you can' then slate them & say how terrible they are without having actually embraced them & used them to their full potential.

I read a piece a while back where the (then) editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller (one of the most powerful & influential people in world media) dismissed modern communication technologies & implied that they made users stupid & destroyed both their relationships & even souls. Yet again, an example of a person (who should know better) confusing medium with message.

 

Sites like FB & TW & the technology which goes hand in hand with them are what YOU make of them. If you sign up to TW & start following the likes of Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton & idiots from The Only Way Is Essex etc (shame on you), you will ultimately have a superficial experience. If you choose to communicate with others & follow things that improve your knowledge on certain subjects (whether it be space, relocating countries, learning a new language, whatever), you will have a more meaningful experience that will enhance your life.

Privacy is another issue that gets mentioned quite a lot - mainly in the media & then by people repeating it without actually knowing what they're on about. Now of course FB & TW collect our data & look at what we post & then use that to target ads etc at us. They're businesses, not charities that have designed sites to enhance our lives for the fun of it. It's worth also remembering that they're FREE. There's a trade-off. There always will be in business. But again we only complain about these sites because they've become so large & are part of our everyday lives & in the media. What about all the other sites we register with - it's naive to think that they don't use your data for one thing or another, too - whether it's ads on the site, marketing mail to your home address & email, & even selling off the data to "partner" companies.

What people also seem to forget about privacy it that's all completely in YOUR control & customisable. FB (as an example) doesn't force you to sign up & it doesn't force you to display every detail of your life to every person &/or company looking. If you want privacy, change your settings. Lock your account, create groups, select to limit the distribution of certain pictures or posts. & if it bothers you that much, get off the internet!

Personally, there are also negatives aspects to social networks. The sites as a whole are exceptional, but as websites which such a large user-base, there will always be certain things which don't work 100%. Change, both in business & technology, is inevitable. It should be embraced, not whinged about (I'm talking to you people that constantly complain when FB is refreshed/updated). As users of this FREE site, people have become lazy & expect everything to be perfect for them & only THEM - it won't be. As a heavy user of FB, I've had issues with certain aspects of it in the past - mainly picture uploading, but I appreciate that it is free & that it's not just build for & aimed at me.

The other negative, which doesn't derive from the internet, but is perpetuated by it, is language. I was always interested in language & writing when growing up & would like to think I have an ok, but by no means perfect, ability to communicate & write. Unfortunately this doesn't seem the case with a lot of people now. We now live in a world where absolutely everything is abbreviated & turned in to "text speak" or "txt spk", I should say. It's another thing that infuriates me.

If you're limited to a certain number of characters, say for example on Twitter, ok, you may need to abbreviate - I even resort to this myself sometimes. But when it comes to normal day to day life, there is no excuse for it. Well there is - laziness. If you're writing on someone's FB wall or sending them an email, you're not limited or constrained by the amount of characters you can use (Facebook does have a limit on posts, but it's around a thousand or something silly like that) & therefore there is no need to write like a 5-year old - "R u comin out 2nite? i dnt no what 2 wear". If you ever send me a message like that, please don't ever expect a reply from me. It's a personal beef & probably has something to do with the fact I'm getting old. But it's just one of those things that is not necessary & is born from sheer laziness as well as a lack of respect & appreciation for our language (as well as others).

Anyway, that's me done. I'm now off to watch some football before I get back to the job hunting & maybe a final blog post tonight.

As usual, comments are welcomed, encouraged & appreciated.

Thanks for reading! :-)