Tweet Nice: Why Showdowns on Social Media are no Fun for Anyone

screaming-woman

 

This morning I read a really wise piece from mashable.com entitled Social Media-Based Public Shaming Has Gotten Out of Control

The writer (Todd Wasserman) does a good job of getting to the crux of why social media shaming makes so many of us feel uncomfortable, namely because it often sidesteps properly addressing an issue in the real world and instead opts for an online tête-à-tête, the fall out from which can be really unpleasant for all concerned.

When I first joined Twitter, I remember being transfixed by the tweet-fights that would pop up in my timeline occasionally. I couldn’t believe that some people would argue so publicly and viciously with strangers or even their peers. It made entertaining reading for a little while but the novelty soon wore off. I wondered, ‘how can you adequately debate anything in 140 characters? And why debate in the first place when  your positions are so polarized there isn’t a hope on this green Earth you’ll find common ground?’

It was also plain to see that while these arguments were happening in the digital world, they were upsetting people in the real world without achieving very much except, in some cases, providing fodder for the grind of the 24/7 news media we’re surrounded by.

When it comes to social media Twitter is my drug of choice and while I enjoy it, I’m very aware of its weaknesses, which I’m reminded of almost daily. Sometimes, though it pains me to say this because I know it plays into the mindset of social media ‘haterz’,  social media sadly becomes little more that an echo chamber of negativity and cynicism. Other times, it tips over into an ‘angry mob’ mentality that leaves me scrambling to log out, even when the subject of the rage is entirely deserving. It can feel like a group feeding frenzy – everyone trying to out do each other with their outrage – and that makes me uncomfortable and also a little confused as to how all this digital rage makes a real difference to the actual issue.

For me all these issues with social media come back to one basic rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t write it, say it or do it in the real world or to someone’s face, then don’t do it online. Consider it the Golden Rule of the Internet, along with this one aka Wheaton’s Law from Will Wheaton of Star Trek: Next Generation fame, who simply says, ‘don’t be a dick’. And what could be easier than that?

Image via curlysar on Flickr.

Deadly Buzz

So, my blog has been shortlisted for Best Personal Blog at the Blog Awards Ireland 2012, which is just lovely. I’m also nominated for Best Blog Post and, as it is a public vote, I would be delira and very thankful if you could kindly give me a vote here.

Thanks a million. I always said you were deadly.

Well done to all the gang at Grafton Media who are organising this year’s awards and best of luck to all those shortlisted.

You can read my nominated blog post, On Blogging, here.

On Blogging

 

What a difference a year makes. It’s almost 12 months since I sat down to compose my first blog post. Back then, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the project but despite my misgivings (most of which sprang from my time working in traditional media, funnily enough) I stuck with it and I’m so glad I did. Over the past while, I’ve crossed the Rubicon from writing in the dark, thankless gutters of the Internet to getting paid for my online scribblings and as any writer will tell you, that is not easy.  Unfortunately, a terrible snobbery still persists when it comes to blogging and as my first anniversary on WordPress fast approaches, I’d like to dispel a few persistant anti-blogging assumptions, starting with this one:

  • Why bother to blog when you don’t get paid for it…: oh yes, that old snipe. Well, let’s apply the same logic to the great many wonderful things in life that pay nothing and yet we do them because we love to.  Simply put, if you only ever undertook something because it paid, you’d miss out on so much. Your soul would shrivel up like an old prune so ignore the naysayers. Just blog and be happy.
  • Blogs are generally of a very low standard: perhaps, but there are plenty of great ones too, some of which I have been fortunate enough to stumble across and return to frequently. Every genre of every type  has its duds. With so many people blogging, it’s not surprising that there are many less-than-stellar examples to point to but don’t let that put you off. Take bad blogs as a lesson in what not to do and just keep on writing.
  • People who blog are misguided – why should anyone care what some random person they never met thinks about anything, anyway? Whenever I hear this one, it makes me laugh because it spectacularly underestimates some of the fundamental aspects of being human, namely that we love to communicate and we are fascinated by each other. You mightn’t care what everyone thinks but within the blogging community you are sure to find a post or a writer or an entire site with something of interest to you, no matter how niche or off the wall your tastes are. I don’t care what anyone says, that is a very sweet deal.
  • You’re wasting your time! Ever since people could draw images on the walls of caves, we have been trying to record our lives. Not everyone sees the purpose in this but a great many people do. Wanting to make your mark, to say ‘I was here’, to fashion something unique out of the things that matter to you in the one short life we get: how can that ever be a waste? Blogs are a kaleidoscope of passions, memories, ideas, photographs, stories, dreams and information. All of human life is here, so don’t be so quick to put your judgement pants on.
  • Well, I still don’t see what the big deal is. Smart people use their blogs to showcase what they are good at or what they feel passionately about whether it is writing, cooking or Victorian fashion trends. A blog can complement your day job, showcase your unique skills, help you connect with like-minded people or just feed your soul and sometimes, if you draw particularly good pictures on the walls of your cave, it can lead you somewhere really special. So if you still can’t see the big deal after all of that, then you’re probably the modern day equivalent of the tut-tut folk who thought books signaled the end of the world or vinyl was an affront to decency and we all know how much fun those types of people are: not much fun, not at all.

So happy blogging birthday to me and to all of you I say the following with spirit and resolve: blog on my dear friends, blog on.

Picture Credit: cambodia4kidsorg on Flickr