Social Media – A Double-edged Sword

Social media themed image

 

Social Media – yes I use it. Hey! I’ve shared the link to this article via Twitter. I discovered the existence of this meme and read it’s latest prompt through Twitter. Hell, I am probably friends with the majority of people who link a post to this meme through Twitter, or perhaps they read my blog.

In my vanilla life I use Whatsapp & Facebook, but currently my account is more like a ‘bookmark’ since I joined Twitter.

Plus and Minus Social media sites such as Facebook have a plus side. The picture sharing, event organising, catching up with far flung friends/ relatives aspect is great. The downside is, it can be a liability, particularly for people who don’t know how to use it properly. You might share pictures while on a lovely 2 week holiday but come home to find your house burgled! Use it to invite a couple of friends round for a drink, but mistakenly put your invite on your ‘wall’, and your doorbell is suddenly ringing because you have an impromptu party on your hands! An ex can stalk who you see and where you go. A future employer could see you post inappropriate remarks or pictures and decide not to hire you.

Less obvious, but more insidious negatives are how social media can feed/exaggerate any mental health issues. For example, if you are feeling lonely or depressed, scrolling through images of people you know attending parties, weddings or on holiday can throw your less colourful lifestyle into stark contrast. People posting pictures of food or fancy drinks they intend to consume haven’t considered how that makes someone struggling to diet / stay on the wagon feel.

I’ve seen people being raised up and brought low on Twitter. A crowd of like minded folk can just as easily divide into factions or become an angry mob. Lies and half truths can spread just as easily as praise and good news, and fake news is all too real and very damaging.

‘FoMO’ – Fear of Missing Out Some people check their social media feed obsessively, what are other people saying / sharing? Are their posts or pictures being ‘liked’. Instagram users take myriad pictures of themselves, highly critical of each one, they strive for the ‘perfect’ image to share. to promote their ‘brand’. Some will get anxious if they don’t feel as if the usual amount of people ‘like’ their output.

If people visualise themselves as ‘influencers’ they work to build their following to high figures with the messages and pictures they share. In a bid to stay relevant or make a mark, they invade their own privacy. Gradually these people push themselves to a place which seems like living in a goldfish bowl, to these types, nothing feels real unless they have posted it on-line, but they’re inviting judgement /comments on everything. For an extreme example, think of the Kardashians.

Haters  If you’re contemplating having a social media profile, it’s important to remember that as many followers as there are using their phones and laptops to ‘like’ posts and pictures, their dark counterparts also exist. We know them as ‘haters’ ‘trolls’ and ‘keyboard warriors’. Not only high profile folk – actors, athletes and politicians – are the objects of trolling and negative feedback. Any of us who expose ourselves as a persona on social media can become a victim. Negative people can get vitriolic. They don’t limit themselves to insulting others on-line but some (extreme cases) try to hunt their targets down at their jobs, children’s schools, or doorsteps depending on how (un)skilled their social media target has been at keeping their profile private or anonymous. This is tough enough to deal with by people who use social media for their job but they may have access to PR assistance. It’s much more challenging for those who use social media for fun, as a hobby. The attack will feel much more personal making you unsure which way to turn for help/support.

Recent to the time of posting this @DeviantSuccubus was negatively targeted on Twitter and Instagram and these attacks dented her confidence. Like most of us, she found it was debilitating in relation to mental health issues.

Devie’s attacker was closer to home. A friend found her site and questioned the images she was sharing on Instagram, making critical remarks, which shook her to the core. Devie rallied by taking control, it’s her blog, her body and entirely her choice how she presented it. Devie wouldn’t be cowed and went ahead, posting increasingly more raw pictures.

Ideally we should counter negative feedback by putting any attack it into perspective: these ‘haters’ are fuelled by jealousy and narrow mindedness. However, it isn’t always easy, to apply this logic, we won’t always feel strong enough to hold our heads up high and carry on regardless. If you have on-line friends you can touch base with, or use supportive loved ones to talk things over with, this definitely helps.

May wrote this in response to a rather opinionated but ill-informed troll.

Social media can be used for good This is something I suggest we all promote and encourage. Most of the people I interact with make time to support and champion each other. They link up to each other’s memes, they share each other’s content. When someone posts about their triumph or a disaster, there will always be a flurry of responses. Those who praise success, offer support or lighten the mood around mishaps, frustrations or fails are the tribe to which I gravitate.

My blog This represents social media but with me in the driving seat. I love encouraging guest writers to contribute posts or pieces of fiction, using my blog as a platform. It’s a shop window for (predominantly) erotic fiction I’ve written, short pieces or longer serials.

Comments I’ll admit that I am boosted by good feedback from comments and folk using the ‘like’ button. A post feels successful if it gets lots of views. Equally if one person I respect re-tweets my post, or shares its url on their blog, thats a positive too. Better still is being commended in a meme to which I’ve linked. I have become friends with people who care to comment on my posts, intelligent discussions of likes and dislikes, striking a chord or shared experiences help me make inter-personal connections.

2 Way Street I love to read people’s posts and appreciate their pictures. I try to make time to visit blogs and leave comments. This is a necessary flip side of attracting readers to my work – it’s selfish to expect people to read what I create if I don’t read their work. Sometimes I’ll refer a specific post to other Twitter friends who I think will be interested.

 

Twitter – do I need it? Could I stop?  Yes and I hope so! I specifically use Twitter to promote my writing, to keep abreast of what other people post or are talking about. It alerts me to new memes, platforms wanting articles, editors looking for submissions and places to offer my writing. When I first joined Twitter I followed just a handful of reviewers and erotica writers, now I have friends and followers in a variety of arenas. I’ve befriended beta readers who assist in the final stages of my writing process, subscribed to writing resources to hone my skill and I’ve discovered sites and podcasts which bring veracity to my fiction.

An example: unfortunately the summer 2019 I suffered a shocking bereavement followed by a critical health scare for a key relative. My resulting emotions and headspace meant I couldn’t use social media in the usual way – no reading sexy stories, or bantering with people. My fictional writing ground to a halt. I fell back on guest writers and opinion pieces to keep posting, if sporadically. I had to pull out of judging memes and writing in marathons. Some days I didn’t look at Twitter at all, but on other days I’d check in and feel up-lifted by DMs from friends hoping to support and cheer me. They offered understanding, advice or shoulders to cry on, they helped me cope in a way that I did not feel open to in face-to-face interaction. I felt fragile, but socialising that way was not overwhelming. Since the pandemic, we’ve all been touched by the  loss of friends/relations or freedoms. From the amount of people who pulled away from social media, I expect what I describe is relatable to many. 

On balance For me social media is a good, useful tool. I try not to feel defined by how many followers my blog has or the quantity of likes or retweets I get, but there is some validation from getting positive feedback from real people – specifically being paid for my writing or invited to contribute to platforms or collaborate with others reinforces my belief that my work has promise and my hope that people enjoy reading what I have to say.

 

This post was originally submitted for sb4MH on the topic Social Media the image used is from Pixabay.

I have tweaked the content to reflect #WickedWednesday‘s prompt Comments

 

15 thoughts on “Social Media – A Double-edged Sword”

  1. Great post, Posy. Social media is such a tricky thing to navigate but we’re all people and we all deserve space to express ourselves without disrespect. Thanks for making such a strong and logical argument for online kindness and awareness.

    1. Thanks Violet, I rambled a bit! So glad you let me illustrate with your post.
      I kinda took a ‘mum’ stance – I wont confiscate the “toy” that’s causing arguments if you all promise to “play” more nicely with it – no arguing now!

  2. Well balanced and interesting article Posy – I do have to say that Google are always spying on us – whats app or not.

    And just as your post is well balanced that’s how we need to treat social media – not let it take over.

    Thank you for mentioning my troll post <3 x

    1. Thanks May – yes you’re right about Google (I’m in deep, I use Gmail and Google docs!)
      You’re right again, like most things – we should indulge in moderation.
      Your troll post was a great illustration of not letting things penetrate your hard shell.

  3. Love this post Posy! So many things you make a point about affect us. I too have a troll. Therefore the reason my account on Twitter is locked. I know I should unlock it and not worry, but I can’t help feeling once it is unlocked I will be completely vulnerable. (Even though my blog is totally open. Ha!) Thank you for sharing! xx

    1. Eurgh – don’t envy you the Troll. Be as cautious as makes you feel confident. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. Lovely share. You covered some very good points, especially about posting food or drink and not thinking about those who are on a diet or on the wagon. That’s something I will take away from this article and that I really need to get more involved and comment and back into the community perhaps connect a little more than previously.
    Thanks again for using Twitter to reach out to me when I was indecisive about getting the dog. 😉

    1. Thanks Sassy – I’m glad it resonated with you.
      You already do so much in the community, but we’d welcome more of your words and pictures.
      I’m delighted I could help you make the decision to get your darling dog. xx

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  6. Like you, I agree that Twitter and other social media can be helpful, but it can also be a minefield, especially when you encounter those haters… great post, Posy!
    ~ Marie xox

    1. Thanks for that wise summation Marie. Social media isn’t for everyone. Used right it can be positive but wariness is advisable.

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