In Defence of Social Media

Really? Am I writing this?

I am a relative newcomer to the modern equivalent of the society gossip pages but, despite my years of vocal resistance, I must confess I have been pleasantly surprised by the whole scene—apart from having to ask my son to be my ‘friend’ and being exposed to too many photos of my nieces in various stages of drunkenness! Ah well, every social situation has its awkward moments. The good news, however, is that my view of the whole business has shifted. I used to think it was a complete waste of time (now downgraded to a ‘partial’ waste of time) … instead of ‘hanging out’ on street corners, I figured today’s youth was loitering on-line. I agreed with many people of my vintage concerned that young people will lose the ability to read, to form complete written sentences without unintelligible and vowel-free words tossed in and that their attention spans will shrivel down to nanoseconds. Well, there is a certain amount of truth to all of that, but I have also come to believe that people may actually be reading and writing more than ever; although not necessarily ‘real reading’—you know the kind that involves a book on your lap and dog-eared pages to turn.

Consumption by book is the equivalent of sitting down to a full course meal, whereas social media is perfect for nibblers and fans of all-you-can-eat buffets. The nibblers and buffet grazers get to sample a bit of everything with the option to bite off a heftier chunk if they wish. Social media provide gateways to people, places and events, and remain open 24/7 to all and sundry. Unlike reading a book, there is the added bonus of being able to participate in the conversations—that said however, do not drink and type. At the very least, giving a figurative thumbs-up to someone’s posting is a benign and easy way to say ‘yes, I hear you’.

I’ve discovered all sorts of marvelous people doing all sorts of marvelous things through my social media portals. People have got me riled up, laughing, crying and, more often than not, thinking … which is all good, isn’t it? People I might otherwise never have heard of and thoughts I might otherwise never have thunk are due, in part, to this new way of being present and sort-of connected in the world. Over time, the modern reader may still lose the capacity to digest a full course meal of 300+ pages of 11 pt. New Times Roman text, but this new method is not as brain-wasting as I first imagined … used in moderation, that is.

I still don’t need—or want—to see a snap of the lunch you just prepared, or the video of your dog scratching his rear end in time to your favourite tune … but I am enjoying people’s creativity, spontaneity, good works and deeds, shared humour, travelogues and the occasional snippet of really useful information only a click away. Perhaps I was missing out on a lot by not getting on board sooner; of course, whatever that was is still out there somewhere stored in the mysterious and indestructible cyber-archives … another point to keep in mind when your beer-fueled selfie-urges run amok.

Bottom line? Glad to be here! Hey … if you ‘like’ this, you know what to do.

#socialmedia

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