Social Media: Life Behind the Glass Wall

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Social media can be a wonderful thing. As someone who uses it professionally myself, and on behalf of a number of clients it offers opportunities to reach out to people in ways you couldn’t manage effectively offline.

Social media is fabulous for raising awareness, for sharing local information and international news. Personally, I use social media as a sort of digital scrapbook, a way to record and revisit memories whenever I like, and for years to come.

I love seeing what’s going on in my community, sharing news with others, celebrating and when needed commiserating with them. The online world is also a place to gain support. I know people who for various reasons, for example, due to dealing with mental health issues, find themselves isolated. The online world offers aid to those who find themselves alone, scared and in a dark place at 2am and that is a great tool to have around.

Social media is a wonderful thing however, there is also a dark side. People find it perfectly acceptable to say things online, behind their glass wall, that they wouldn’t dream of saying face to face. I’m not talking about these infamous trolls either, I’m talking about people you see every day. I find this bemusing on one hand and incredibly sad on another.

I see people joining groups in order to moan. Don’t get me wrong, I can whine and moan and rant with the best of them and yet I sometimes find myself asking “when did social media replace our ability to act in real life if there’s change needed?”.

Used effectively social media can be a wonderful thing but sometimes I think we could all do with taking a step back, to pause before we post (for our own sakes) and to remember what social media is, to consider its limitations and its dangers. Being behind a glass wall offers a perception of power and that power can be misused sometimes. People on the internet exaggerate, they out and out lie, they victimise, they bully and they convince themselves that they are righteous, that they do have the right to say and do such things. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, if not used by a wannabe vigilante mob, or by those who have lost sight of how to deal with issues in person, preferring the keyboard warrior stance and the little thrill it offers.

We live in modern times and as such have access to the most wonderful modern technologies. Take advantage of them but follow your own tune, be true to who you are, protect yourself where necessary and enjoy it. Make sure that you don’t take what you see on social media sites as being automatically factual, check things out. Use the internet and social media sites as a set of useful tools, not as a weapon against someone else.

PS: Please don’t disagree with anything I’ve written here, in my little corner of the online world where I like to ramble on sometimes about the thoughts and ideas rattling around in my head. Having a different point of view to someone online is a no-go so don’t be tempted. The backlash can be appalling…. ðŸ˜€ 

DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!

 

photo by Kristine Paulusvia PhotoRee

When I say troll, some of you will think of those bloody annoying plastic toys with fuzzy stuck-up hair and a constant sarcastic grin. Though I firmly believe they should be outlawed or all collected up and melted down to make something useful, those aren’t the trolls I’m talking about.

No, I’m talking about the annoying too-much-time-on-their-hands losers who seem to get a kick out of making stuff up, causing arguments and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Why they do it I don’t know??

BECAUSE THEY ARE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE ATTENTION SEEKERS!

Oh yes, that’ll be it!

Sometimes it can take a more sinister turn, people making up a whole new person and inventing a life for themselves. I don’t mean tweaking yourself on the internet, I mean a whole new person, with a life story to make Oprah cry, who tells everyone they are ill or have a sick child (when they don’t)…. you know the picture. These people invoke sympathy and there have been cases of people donating money after a fictitious child has been diagnosed with cancer or similar. I remember this happening on a parenting forum I visited when pregnant the first time and people were horrified to have been taken in. I’m pretty sure legally this is some sort of fraud and must be  bloody awful for those who really do have these problems and identify with these trolls. Recognising this kind of troll can be difficult and people need to be careful; but also be aware that not everyone who has a tough home-life and talks about it online is a troll and shouldn’t be automatically jumped on!

Some suggest trolling can be a cry for help, a lonely person desperate for attention. I’m sorry folks, trolls are just that…. people with nothing better to do than being an online pain in the arse!

I have been an internet user for many years, and have been surgically attached to my laptop for some time now. From parenting forums, to social media, to blogs… there seems to be an abundance of people who seem very happy to waste hours of their lives jumping around forums, causing arguments, being purposefully controversial or downright rude to cause a reaction.

So what can we do? DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. People who are argumentative, leave discriminatory comments, disagree with everyone and just plain pick fights… ignore them, block them, move on! These people thrive on the attention so not replying to them really is the best course of action.

Have you been a victim of trolling on your blog or website? Do you think I’m being harsh and not looking at the big picture? Do trolls deserve some modicum of understanding? I don’t think so but what is your take on it all?

*No plastic trolls were hurt during the research phase of this post. The little buggers moved too fast for me to catch them!*

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