So where are we with Social Media a few years in?

Three years ago I leapt 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.