A Year in Social Media
The term social media is a broad church. For me it primarily means Twitter as that is the only platform of that ilk that I use regularly. I maintain a presence on Facebook simply to stay in touch with friends who have emigrated to the US. We have a private page where we catch up instead of using the traditional medium of emails. It is more immediate but also more frivolous. If it weren’t for need that it serves, I would have long closed my Facebook account. 2018 was also the year where I tried to continue using Instagram but failed. I don’t tend to catalogue and display my life in the manner that this medium tends to demand and use it mainly to see what my granddaughters have been up to. For me Twitter is the social media platform I feel most comfortable using and feel that I have mastered. I use it to promote my writing and for quips, banter and social interaction. Beyond that I think its benefits are both limited and even questionable.
Initially I thought that having a large Twitter following would be invaluable for promoting my writing and podcast. Ten years later I have definitively concluded that it is not so. Yes, I do generate traffic from my tweets but it’s less than a quarter of all visits to my blog. You also very quickly learn that informed debate is also an impossibility on this platform. Muting specific keywords, blocking people and generally pruning the list of accounts that you follow is the key to happiness and success when using this Twitter. You are not obliged to debate and discuss with all and sundry who see fit to question you. Twitter is not a moderated, civilised arena for intellectual discussion. It is more akin to a hectoring at a sporting venue. Treat Twitter like your own front door. You don’t have to open it, especially if an itinerant asshole or professional malcontent is knocking.
On a more serious note, as you get older (or at least I find so), friends and colleagues tend to settle down, have families and do the “usual” things in life. Social circles therefore contract and alter. This is perfectly natural and nothing out of the ordinary. Over the last ten years, I have come to know a broad and diverse group of people via Twitter. They hail from all walks of life and from numerous countries. I greatly value their company and daily thoughts. I consider this to be the real benefit that Twitter brings, as the virtual company of my colleagues has often helped me through some bleak periods. The debate over the validity of online friendships still rages on but I genuinely believe that is can be just as important as those offline. I would happily meet up with all my Twitter chums and enjoy their company over a meal. Hopefully these positive benefits of social media will continue into 2019.