Social media

You never know what will provoke people to get involved in a discussion when you post a blog – and I’m always intrigued when people zero in on the things that I don’t expect them to.

It’s probably because (maybe obviously or maybe not) I often construct my missives with words or phrases that are targeted to a certain individual or audience (an ‘in joke’ of sorts) and because I’m not one to discuss private conversations or I often attempt to hide a lot in plain sight.

The truth is that there’s typically more than might first meet the eye in some of my words and phrases – and many are lifted straight from conversations where only one or two people might truly understand their context.

It’s pretty cool to write something that seems innocent but that also contains significant meaning or sentiments directed at someone else and this is just one element of blogging that I’ve always enjoyed.

However this can mean that my attention is focused solely on these segments and I’ve realised that I sometimes end up becoming rather blinkered to what the end post might look like (or even appear to be overtly about) to a casual reader.

These generous souls certainly keep me on my toes with regard to their comments on WordPress, Instagram and Facebook – and quite out of the blue spirited discussions about recycling or music can mushroom into topics I hadn’t expected or considered before.

If you truly want to engage with your audience (and I always try to reply to anyone kind enough to comment) then a blog can be a genuinely life enhancing tool.

I’ve met and talked to lots of people that I otherwise wouldn’t if I didn’t share so much of my life online.

Blogs are a Willy Wonka everlasting gobstopper in this respect because they just keep giving in so many ways.

However – whilst I can liken social media to a lovely endlessly suckable sweetie it can also at times resemble a grenade rocking back and forth in front of you with the pin pulled out.

Being in ‘out there’ has at times meant that my image has been used in very unexpected ways (link).

You have to take the rough with the smooth though – and over time (it didn’t happen naturally) I’ve learned to take the good with a smile and the bad with a slightly more wry smile.

Whilst the above catfishing attempt was mildly concerning, other impromptu internet appearances involving me are quite random and amusing.

Today (totally out of the blue) I was contacted by a fellow SW’r in my group to tell me that I’m currently appearing in Romanian social media (although I realised later that I neglected to ask what was being said).

I’m not sure if Slimming World has a presence locally or whether it was a slow news day in Romania – but either way this thankfully explained the sudden influx of Facebook friend requests I’d received from the region today containing lots of grinning ladies.

Not so long ago I had a comparable influx from similarly cheerful German Frau’s after I turning up in their local media – even though the comments in that particular post didn’t seem all that complimentary (link)

It was no less odd being compared to a baby pygmy hippopotamus by Fox News in the US and getting lots of friend requests from scary looking women standing in front of flags with automatic rifles.

One of them was a high priestess (according to her self proclaimed status) and despite her religious status she looked like she had developed more than enough muscles to tear me in half and sling me most of the way across the English Channel.

The internet is chaos.

It’s the ultimate double edged sword and you can never predict what people will love or hate, or for that matter what will drive them away or keep them coming back for more.

I don’t really care though. There’s a place for everyone’s opinion (within reason – I don’t advocate hate speech) and we as a society can choose to listen or not when we disagree.

There’s no point wasting negative energy disliking someone you’ll probably never meet or losing sleep over their opinions.

I don’t really care what they get up to or whether they dislike the movies I love.

In my case I’ve always wanted nothing more than my honesty to come across in my posts and I don’t worry about how many people do or do not read them.

Even though sincerity is my sole motivation I can’t help but occasionally reflect on my WordPress stats.

I’m never less than intrigued by the fact that I almost always get way more hits on ‘anguish’ posts than I do on ‘deliriously happy’ ones.

Don’t get me wrong – blogs where I feel like I’m on top of the world may not generate quite as much online traffic – but they do result in both spirited and happy feedback.

There’s a relatively predictable outcome when I write though.

The posts where I’m not coping almost always end up with the most traffic.

Sad = lots of clicks.

Happy = lots of comments.

In the news recently was the story of a Malaysian teen in crisis who made an Instagram poll asking the world at large whether she should live or die.

Sadly the poll she created ultimately suggested to her that many more people wanted her to end her life than cared about her survival – and this appeared to be the catalyst for her suicide.

I’m not entirely sure where the responsibility lies in cases like this – and Instagram (in my view) would never have expected that the polling function they’d created would have been used in this way.

If they have the tools to stop it happening again with AI or human monitoring then of course they should do so – but I also think that (to an extent) this is a similar ideological approach to investigating the makers of ballot boxes because people that used them voted in a disagreeable way.

Ultimately we have to be responsible for how we conduct ourselves as a species – and I think our understanding of what is right and wrong online is (socially at least) in its infancy.

Governments often come from the wrong age groups or demographics to understand the true impact of social media on both the youth and politics – and there are lots of thorny issues to tackle in cyber space that we seem to barely have scratched the surface of.

The fact is that more and more we are living a life online – and the pace of our shift into a digital world isn’t keeping pace with the education of our society (and our youngsters) about how potentially tricky it can be.

I wish that the girl in Malaysia had chosen life.

Her tragedy and the devastation felt by her family is unimaginable.

However for all its capability to be used for evil I still have faith in social media and it’s ability to bring positive and life affirming experiences as well as wonderfully interesting human contact into all of our lives.

If I could only understand this new fangled Twitttering thing.

It’s just voodoo.



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