SOCIAL MEDIA


WHY AM I NOT ON TWITTER?

Some people may be so dumb they can express their thoughts in 140 characters or less, but I can only begin to say anything meaningful in a thousand, and even that is pushing it somewhat. For some reason, although I have never signed up to this inane application, I get regular emails on my gmail account which include some of these vapid Twitter messages. I occasionally glance at these before I delete them, but I have never once read anything even remotely interesting. It is a sad reflection of our online culture that so many people are so mindless as to take any notice of them. I see that the President of the United States explains his policies on Twitter; but I have to respect him of course.

I find it hard to say anything in favour of Tweets. It is not just the ridiculous 140 character limit which puts me off; it is the phenomenon of the ‘Twitter Storm’. I am not on the silly program, so if I were ever to be the subject of such an outpouring of internet bile I would never know. Let them say what they like, it only exists in the ether. So many celebrities can massage their egos by getting a big following on Twitter, by saying boring commonplaces; that is until they post something unguarded which is mildly interesting. Then the resulting Social Media firestorm drives them to take cover. Stephen Fry was for a period not on Twitter, having for once inadvertently used his 140 characters to say something controversial. It makes me feel rather pleased when the famous get it in the neck, so perhaps there is something to be said for it after all. But you still won’t find me on Twitter.

Social Media is a relatively recent thing. I can remember when Twitter started up, and most commentators said it would be here today and gone tomorrow; who would want to use it, and even if they did, where was the money in it? There must however be some way of converting these fleeting comments into cash, because their gross income for 2015 was revealed as nearly $1.5 billion. Other Social Media outlets are Facebook, which I use to a certain extent, Streetlife (ditto) and LinkedIn. This last one I do not think I subscribe to, but from the regular communications I get they obviously think I do. It is principally aimed at  improving your career prospects, although if it really does anything of the kind is rather doubtful. As I am a retired resident in God’s waiting room, it is of no relevance to my situation. Why do I get requests to sign up as a friend from people in places like Arizona and Pakistan? What relevance to their business advancement can I possibly be? It is mildly rewarding when someone puts another entry down on my list of accomplishments, but no-one except me will ever read it. I have recently been getting cheery messages to congratulate a friend on seven years in his current job, but unfortunately he died a year ago. One of the websites my historical work appears on is Academia.com, a facility which makes available my academic papers to other researchers. It is always interesting when someone clicks on my paper – I had two clicks only yesterday – and I hope one day to get some more tangible feedback.

Do you remember Friends Reunited? That was an early example of Social Media, although when it started the term had not been invented. It shut down years ago, but at one time it was the way many of us first discovered the magic of the internet in connecting people. It is a fast-changing world; when I got my first email account 20 years ago it wasn’t of much relevance because none of my friends even had a computer, let alone an internet connection. The process of connecting relied on dial-up, which besides assaulting your ears with the sound of cats fighting meant you could not use the phone for the duration of your internet use. Cell phones, or mobiles as we call them in this country, which would have provided alternative phone access were rare and expensive. Fast forward to today and everybody has a Smartphone; on my laptop I could not imagine life without checking my emails several times a day, or getting all the latest news on-line. When I need to relax I listen to obscure Baroque trio sonatas on Youtube, and of course keep up to date with my blog.

WordPress is one of these Social Media websites in which I take a daily interest, visiting my site multiple times. This is because it is WordPress that hosts this blog. I certainly have a growing and dedicated following, although I think I will never again achieve the 16,000 visits I got in one day, through a chance mention on Reddit. My blog puts me in touch with lots of interesting people; family members whom I have never met; in some cases never even heard of. They email me out the blue, and so do friends and relations of strangers I have referred to. I get told interesting sidelights on places and events I have mentioned, and requests for further information on all sorts of things. These all come through the magic of the internet, but so too do the spammers and scammers which are part of the down side of the web. Except for these I am always glad to have more emails; it is rather frustrating when a flurry of activity is apparent on a page of mine, whether it is on Academia or WordPress, but I never learn why. Who is viewing this page? I will never know unless they tell me, so please if you are interested in my blog, do let me know. I promise not to pester you forever afterwards.

JOSEPH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

SOCIAL MEDIA

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