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…. ­čśÇ 

Political correctness gone mad?


photo by Katie Tegtmeyer via PhotoRee

Can I say mad?

Reading over the protests against the proposed SOPA / PIPA legislation recently my thoughts wandered from censorship to the limits society put on what we say or write.

Example 1. In the times BC (before children, not before Christ!), during a particularly busy day at one of the bases I worked in I said “Jeez! It’s like Paddy’s Market in here!“. A hush fell over the colleague with me. “You can’t say that!” she whispered, looking around to make sure no-one had heard my faux pas. I was baffled to be honest! “Jeez? I didn’t mean it as Jesus, just erm like gosh?!“.

Some eye-rolling.

No, you can’t say Paddy’s Market! It’s may upset someone who is Irish“.

Jeez! I did explain that my Father was Irish and that as far as I know it’s not a hanging offence to utter such a thing but the PC police had ┬áspoken.

Example 2: ┬áWhen doing my counselling training, we split into groups and proceeded to brain storm ideas for …… No we didn’t. We were informed by the tutor that Brainstorm was no longer respectful as it may belittle those with epilepsy or similar conditions. I’m now told “Mind” isn’t the correct term, so “Thought shower” it is.

Example 3: Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman jokes – for many these are a no go. The stereotypical way the Irishman is always portrayed as “dumb” and the Scotsman as a tight-fisted whisky drinker is unacceptable (jokes about the death of Amy Winehouse, the Riots, Bin Laden etc are fine, because ┬áthese are just funny though).

Perhaps I’m missing the point?

I’m not talking about blatant racism / sexism etc, I’m talking about once common terms that seem to be unacceptable now but it’s not always clear why. Sometime it seems that people find fault where there is none. Perhaps I’m being blinkered and such things are offensive and I just can’t see it as well as others.

I’m a freelance copywriter when I have my professional hat on so of course have to be mindful of these things, it is very important to not add anything in that may cause offence however with the goalposts constantly hanging, who is to know what ┬áthe next no-can-do thing to say or write will be?

What do you think? Are there any examples like mine above that make you groan or am I behind the times and need to wake up to the political correctness revolution?

* I was taught many of the Englishman / Irishman / Scotsman jokes by someone who is Irish. I never once got cross about the Englishman being the one who seemed to always miss out on all the fun times.