As you might have worked out, I’m not a lover of social media. The word itself ‘social’ derives from the Latin ‘socialis’ meaning belonging to a companion. This fact, I believe, puts it all into perspective. The misconception that ‘social media’ means you are socialising and interacting with a wide community; gaining popularity through likes and gaining insights into differing lifestyles is totally skewed. Instead the original meaning of belonging is nearer to the mark. Showcasing your life actually, says to me, we are all belonging to a cult. By putting ones life onto the WWW, everyone owns a piece of you. That means people think that this gives them poetic licence to say whatever they want about your life.
This would all be very well and good if we were all bona fide celebrities. All earning enough to support a small country. We aren’t though are we? We are all just bimbling through life and trying to enjoy it along the way. So why do we do it? What is the impact on our younger generation?
The cult of media is a dangerous thing. It gives people, who wouldn’t ordinarily speak out, a forum to be vocal. It also gives those gobshites who like the sound of their own voices. Thr ones who like to give you the benefit of their wisdom. The ones who assume (never make an ass of you and me) you know nothing. It provides a platform to spout rubbish about every subject under the sun (jack of all trades master of none springs to mind). Now I’m all for freedom of speech, but like Brexit and Trump, living in a democracy has its drawbacks; it allows idiots to vote. So we have to take the rough with the smooth. I can deal with the ill informed points of view. I can tolerate the bad punctuation and spelling (to a point). However, what I can’t abide are the nasty and vindictive things people ‘share’ (old English scearu meaning division – oh the irony) with others.
A couple of years ago Him got some bad press on one of these local sites. It could have been very easy to get dragged into a massive mud sling of barbed comments; all hidden behind our collective keyboards and monitors. With some investigation we could have retaliated with a similar attack on their businesses. But no. Instead Him took real action.
Him hates ‘social fakeworking’ more than me. He has had a couple of lacklustre attempts at it but in reality he likes face to face. Therefore, armed with evidence and a well rehearsed rhetoric, he approached the trolls (Old Norse ugly creature – how apt!) and asked them to explain themselves. (Him is a clever little sod, and as you might predict, he very quickly turned the situation around. They actually apologised and to this day are big supporters to his cause).
NB. This is a prime example of how to do it.
On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of how not to do it. Grown adults who should know better: waspish comments with bitter snakelike tongues; casting aspersions and narrow minded opinions; all because they think the world needs the benefit of their words (I know, I’m a fine one to talk). Jealousy, however, is usually the root cause; coupled with the fact that it’s very easy to hide behind an online persona.
But going back to my earlier question about the younger generation, it is them that this is affecting the most. The biggest job in the world is being a parent. It is the parent’s responsibility to guide their young. Provide healthy role models and examples. So how scary is it when these role models spend their time trolling?
To say I am shocked by the utter drivel and evil thoughts I see posted on a daily basis, is an understatement. My little L gave me some good advice once when I put my mouth into action before my brain into gear ‘mum, we all think it but nobody says it’ – sage advice from a 12 year old. She’s right though; why do people feel the need to say things with the purpose to hurt others? Children get caught up daily in some vile internet battles. Cyber bullying, inappropriate behaviour online and grooming, being one of the biggest problems facing schools at this time. The worst thing I hear is when the parents get involved and start sending messages to other children themselves.
I think it’s too easy. Too easy to access stuff so readily on our smartphones and tablets. Gone are the days when you’d come in from school, power up your computer and go for your tea whilst Pacman loads. Therefore, I think we need to start modelling healthy examples to our kids. We need to show that socialising is belonging and it’s about belonging to people who love, care and actually give a monkeys about your life. I think we should dump the media and just be social. After all, belonging is a positive thing. We all want to belong and we want our kids to have happy, healthy relationships. We want them to find their place and belong in this sometimes cruel world.