Two things happened to me recently which have made me question my readiness for the heady world of social media:
- I flippantly agreed to be in a short Vine video advertising a spare desk in the office, in which I then proceeded to act the fool, take my top off, and then the video did the rounds on my most of the social networks I use among friends, peers and clients. Weird.
- I had to ask a close friend not to leave a certain kind of remark repeatedly on one of my social profiles as I was worried it would offend other friends, to which he took offense and suggested I was being overly sensitive.
Neither instance is particularly significant, uplifting or upsetting for me, but they both forced me to consider why I do what I do online and who’s out there to consume it. Have I thought about why I use these different platforms, and what I expect from others? So far so self-involved. But, I added twenty years onto this, pervasive technologies and an army of younger people with increasing appetites for sharing, and I thought:
Cor blimey, maybe we should give some thought as to the terms under which we as individuals use social media?
I don’t mean long and boring legally worded statements protecting us from copyright infringement or libel, but simple statements of intent. I use Facebook because I like knowing when your birthday is and I also enjoy seeing your holiday photos. These views do not represent those of my employer. When I’m on LinkedIn swearing at me isn’t appropriate, but when I’m on Twitter don’t fucking hold back. I think that outing our intentions will allow others to interact with us better, and avoid some of the messiness that social media can so easily create.
Of course there’s an argument to lead by example; behave as you’d like others to and they will follow suit. My only issue with this is the reality that we all have very different social norms. What is open for me might seem reserved to another, and what counts as a joke to one person can be the ultimate insult to somebody else. As human beings we’re clumsy, fallible and prone to moodiness, and as an always-on mirror, magnifying glass and megaphone social media is a hotbed of anxiety and embarrassment.
I don’t know how to conclude this as it’s something I’m going to continually worry about.