A Year in Social Media
Although Twitter has changed a great deal since 2010, when I first joined, I still find it very enjoyable experience. It is my primary social media platform compared to Facebook and Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to mute several people (including some whom I like) and a ton of keywords over the last twelve months, so my timeline doesn’t become a portal into the seventh circle of hell. Contrary to the usual arguments that get trotted out, I don’t live in an echo chamber. I follow a diverse and eclectic group of people with a broad range of view and opinions. I simply filter out those who hold a binary view on all major issues and have with a predilection for being bellicose, bombastic and crass. If your default reaction to everything is get angry first and ask questions later, I think I can live without your opinions. Be that as it may, 2017 has been an especially rewarding year with my Twitter friends and I have greatly appreciated their company.
Like many people of my age, I’ve found that my personal social circle has shrunk over the years. It is simply the reality of growing older. I have a handful of close friends who I endeavour to see every few months, but my social life isn’t anything like it was when I was twenty. But I’m fine with this because I regularly interact with like minded individuals on Twitter. Through the process of day-to-day banter, I’ve got to know a lot of people. Despite being from various corners of the globe and different backgrounds, there is so much common ground. I like to check in with folk on Twitter, exchange ideas and post pictures and anecdotes about the absurdity of life in the UK. It’s great fun when others do the same and I find out about some minor cultural difference where they live, that I wasn’t aware of. Also, like some others out there, it’s been a difficult year for me. There’s been a lot of illness in my family. Sometimes the odd kind remark on social media can really make the difference. It has for me.
Although I still write and podcast, I no longer look to social media to drive traffic to my work. It actually makes up a small percentage of my blog traffic. Persistently posting material every day seems to be the best way to raise your profile but that’s a separate matter. Twitter now is mainly for fun and that is the way it will remain until it ceases to be so. However, I have learned a few things this year about the foibles of social media. I tweeted a minor political post to the TV and Radio broadcaster James O'Brien in Autumn, which he then subsequently retweeted. For the next two days my timeline was swamped by notifications of further retweets and comments that I was automatically copied into. It made conducting my usual badinage difficult. I also made the mistake of correcting someone who had misinterpreted something I had written. Sadly, as it was to do with an ongoing political demonstration, you can guess how it ended. For the next six hours I was copied into an argument that grew exponentially between so many people, that ignoring or muting them all became impossible.
I have two old friends that have moved to the US and we have a private Facebook page where we catch up. Apart from this one activity my relationship with this social media platform has declined. Frankly I’m bemused why it remains so popular with people, however a casual perusal of Facebook groups and pages has shown me why it is such a great tool for political propaganda. With regard to Instagram I’m afraid I have turned into one of those persons who just posts picture of his grandchildren. But this is the nature of social media. You use the platforms that suit you in a manner that fits your needs. If I were thirty years younger and embarking upon a career as a professional writer, I would certainly look into how to harness these powerful tools to my advantage. But I’m not, so I’ll more than likely just continue to post my own “unique brand” of humour online and hang out with my Twitter chums in 2018. And why not, as the late, great Barry Norman use to say.