Writing Prompts: What’s your take on social media?

Well now, here comes a distinctly double-edged sword.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr etc) has enabled millions of us to have our own little pockets of the web, tuned to our wants and needs (sometimes scarily so). These little ‘bubbles’ can be shared with family and friends, who might in turn share their bubbles with us. We may also choose to share these little niches with strangers, or online acquaintances. Groups can form around a particular interest. On Facebook, you will find groups and pages that cover virtually any topic imaginable. Like-minded people can group together here, quite easily.

This has its upsides, but it also has plenty of downsides. There are those of us who share everything of ourselves online, despite (perhaps because of) the potential for millions of complete strangers to see what we have to say. Every personal crisis, every bit of pressure from work, every piece of stress, even every meal, gets uploaded to where anyone can see it. Our locations can be rendered accessible to anyone, if we so choose. I’m not sure if that’s wise.

Then there are the echo chambers. Long-debunked ideas, such as Flat Earth theory, and the misinformation of anti-vax campaigns, suddenly gain prominence. Whilst the people who buy into such nonsense are few, on social media they can feel like many, and they bombard their views across social media.

You have the self-styled ‘experts’ in any given field, who believe because they have searched any given topic online, their opinions suddenly carry equal weight with those who have years of study and experience. It’s about noise, and on social media, sometimes it feels that the loudest voice, not the smartest, is the one who gets heard the most. There’s also the factor of scams and phishing. A lot of social media platforms have nefarious people who prey upon anyone and everyone to steal. I am not impressed by such people.

On the flipside, if you have family and friends who are far-flung, it’s now quite possible to remain in contact. A lot of platforms (such as Facebook) have video calling options, that don’t cost you anything. If you want to share an idea, a product (a book!), it becomes very easy. Finding like-minded people who enjoy the same things as you is not always a bad thing.

As with a lot of technology, it all boils down to how it get used.

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