So many people are very quick to be very nasty about Social Media, and really, who can blame them? We are surrounded by horror stories of internet trolls, bullying and online abuse. Most of us have seen elements of it first hand. And they're right to be sceptical, Social Media can be truly terrible at times.
But what they seem to forget is that sometimes, it can be a truly wonderful thing. In fact, most the time it can be a truly wonderful thing. We are able to keep in touch with our friends in such an accessible and fun way, we have access to wonderful, positive stories that we wouldn't otherwise know were out there and best of all? It gives us the opportunity to show ourselves to the world, in the way that we want to. Not always a good thing, some might argue, but an incredible gift none the less.
Whatever. This is all irrelevant anyway because it's not going anywhere. But there are times that our obsession with our phones can be a treacherous and complicated thing. Social Media is a minefield and it's often so difficult to work out the etiquette of our online lives.
I haven't got the answers to this yet, but as Facebook introduced their 'reaction' buttons yesterday, (you can now not only 'like' something, you can 'love' it, be 'sad' about it, 'laugh' at it, show 'anger' or say 'wow', still no dislike button but that's probably no bad thing.) I started thinking about Social Media more generally.
And there are so many elements of Social Media that we need some help with. For example:
When is it acceptable to 'leave' a group message?
I often find myself swept up in these, whether on Facebook or WhatsApp. Perhaps it's someone announcing the birth of their baby, an invitation to a party or a group asking for support with a gig or business. Initially it's fun but I often find myself in a group with people that I don't know very well. I send the first reply and then find my phone going mad with in-jokes and witty GIFs. It drives me mad, but leaving? Well that's just rude. So right now? I'm stuck, along with countless other people who are too scared to leave out of politeness, but who have found themselves hating people they haven't even met yet simply for their excessive use of the pointless and irritating 'haha'.
The 'RIP Dad' Facebook status that you don't want to 'like' but simply can't ignore.
This admittedly has just become easier, thanks to the Facebook Reactions buttons but for years this has been a tricky one to navigate. These posts, although they used to be frowned upon for being TMI, are now, not only heartbreakingly sad but actually a nice way of sharing news and saving yourself the agony of having to tell people time and time again the bad news. Even though you now can show your condolences with a big 'sad face' emoji, it still doesn't really do it justice.
Finishing a conversation with someone you don't know that well.
Admittedly this did happen with texts too, and still does, but since we all got so chatty and nice on Social Media, this is getting even harder. Most my messages end these days something like this.. 'thank you so much', 'no worries', '*thumbs up*', 'take care', 'you too', 'xxx', 'xxx'. I'm going mad. Help.
This has been the bane of many a life since Twitter and Instagram took off and something that my mum rang me about yesterday in a tizz. She had just reinstated her Instagram account and had had a heap of people requesting to 'follow' her, she was worried that it was bad manners not to follow them back. But is it? What if one of them is realllyyyyy boring? Or offensive? Does the price for politeness really need to include scrolling through relentless photos of potted plants and racist slurs?
And finally the incredibly awkward moment that happens when you meet someone who you have previously Facebook stalked.
This was NEVER a problem before we all became Social Media Mad. It usually just slips out, you meet someone for the first time, the girlfriend of a friend maybe, and you blurt out that you love her middle name? There's no going back from that and although there is no shame in a nifty Facebook stalk every now and then, the potential for awkward turtle moments becomes strife.
Let's hope these oversized Emojis are the beginning of a whole tonne of changes coming to Social Media soon...