Friday, 31 January 2014

Social media evolution or New Year resolution?

I know I am a walking contradiction.  Despite uploading my stories and likes online, I have a paranoid (yet I think valid) belief that all our online activities, thoughts, opinions will come back and bite us in the bum, literally - this truthfully scares me.

I still can’t program a TV or use a smart phone. I go to the phone store for staff to unlock my phone or top up my credit. My reliance on email and telephone to keep in touch with people has reduced. I have graduated to Skype, Facebook, and the occasional text.  I am a modern woman.

As a user, I find myself questioning myself and the mediums I use that now play an important role in connecting me to friends, relatives and colleagues.

Skype allows my children to interact with their cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends located around the world  - in real time. Skype keeps me on my toes as my mother comments on my appearance, weight, whether my children look fed and clean.  I watch her glance into the background to see whether the house is tidy.  

Before agreeing to a Skype session, I turn on the camera on my laptop to see what my mother will see. Is my hair OK, do I need to adjust the lighting?

I cover the dark circles under my eyes, comb my hair, and like a TV journalist sitting behind a desk; I wear a nice fresh flattering top.  If the camera scrolled down, you would see pyjama bottoms or tracksuit pants, and worse my UN pedicured feet.  

While the interaction is real, are we being real?

I have a gripe with Facebook. Like an airport that unites and separates me from friends and relatives – I love it and hate it.  I love the fact I can keep in touch with friends, find out who is doing what.  Facebook to me is like a mobile home, where I can peer through the curtains and look into other people’s homes to see what they are doing. I can either pull back the curtains, open the window and wave (interact), or watch silently.

What I hate about Facebook, aside from making me an occasional creepy online stalker (admit it at one point everyone consciously or not does a bit of online stalking), is the fact that it makes us all fifteen again.

I can ask someone to be my friend, or I can drop them. I can let them in to the inner circle, or partially in. I can poke, comment or ignore all without consequence.

I have a Facebook friend I am really pleased to have. We met at a party some years back. I thought he was seriously clever with his smart opinion on global issues, countries, situations. At the party I sat like a groupie listening to him rattle on about the state of the world. I was pleased that we became Facebook friends. I read his commentary and shake my head in disbelief. How do I know somebody so smart?  He writes about corrupt politicians and I upload photos of my children. AND he hit’s ‘like’!

I have another Facebook friend that for a range of reasons am itching to drop – but won’t. The friend request sat in my inbox for weeks. I didn’t want to accept it, but I knew that if I didn’t, I would be that mean girl at school that nobody liked but everyone was friendly with.  It takes courage to send a friend request. It’s rude to ignore it.

Mr. Lucky and I have friends in common (really? How strange you may say). No really, we do. One particular individual for reasons unknown to us has limited Mr. Lucky's view on their profile. Does this individual not realise that Mr. Lucky and I communicate?  While I love being an individual in a relationship – its circumstances like these that some must realise in some instances, we come as package deal. It’s not one or the other.

So, while we keep in touch with our friends and family, we revert to being teenagers, (well perhaps I do).  We angst about how we look on Skype. We count the number of friends we have and compare them to others.  We comment on the mundane (who is dieting, who has had dinner at what restaurant). We ask ourselves have we tweeted enough, commented enough. Are my comments cool, smart, natural, needed and why?

What am I trying to say? I worry that social media, in addition while keeping us connected does it control us in ways we don't realise? How free are we really when we are always in touch, always sharing ideas, thoughts and opinion?  When do we allow ourselves and our children privacy?

In his article 'Is Media just another word for control' (2/1/2014)  John Pilger wrote: 'We all live in an information age - or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We're wired; we're on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in 'Brave New World', Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age.‘

Now that I potentially look and sound smart, and I mull over my and John's thoughts, I am going to suck it up and take another step into the information or as John puts it, media  age… Staring my bravado in its face, I have decided to join the other mummy bird bloggers, and start tweeting.  I have managed Twitter accounts for work and corporates, but never for me.  As a newbie in this area – any advice is welcome.

Am I falling further into the clutches of a controlled media age or is my desire to meet my New Year resolution to distribute my stories simply ego?

This blog forms part of Lisa Lintern's daily blog challenge. Visit Melodramatic Me for more. 

'Is Media just another word for control' John Pilger Website published 2/1/2014
Image courtesy of smarnad /

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