This summer, I had a bit of an epiphany. It concerned nothing particularly unique or any more insightful than what most people are already talking about, but I had to question: When did social media become seedy?
Donning my Devil’s Advocate fedora (Festival season, innit), I poured over the right and wrongs, pros and cons, business or pleasures of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, ask.fm and co.
Working in PR (for a charity who supports people with mental health problems), social media plays a large part in my daily work life. And I LOVE it. The instant conversation, the light-hearted banter tackling serious subjects, the virtual friends who become real friends.
I’m probably an all-or-nothing kind of person. In 2007, (following the lead from family across the pond), I joined Facebook with full gusto, proud that I played by its rules. I didn’t just watch; I joined in. To post or not to post? I’m definitely in the posting camp. Status update. Check. Photo uploads. Check. Liking photos of my mate’s dog or my cousin’s fancy dress disaster. Check. Yet it all just seemed that little more respectful in its younger days. Launched in 2004, and nearly ten years old, I’d say Facebook is approaching its Kevin the Teenager years, early.
With what appears to be a sharp increase in ‘trolling’, or internet bullying, most publically (and tragically) on anonymous social media platform Ask.fm which subsequently led to a number of suicides, social media appears to be going through something of an identity crisis. What started off as a brilliant social networking tool, where you could chat to your buddy backpacking through Guatemala and at the same time, organise a reunion with people you hadn’t seen since school, has now taken something of a darker turn. The anonymity of platforms such as ask.fm and a huge number of online forums, appear to be the perfect place for cowardly people to freely cajole, bully and insult innocent strangers, with no other reason that simply because they can get away with it. Just take a few seconds to look at the comments below any random YouTube video and within ten comments, the insults inevitably begin. This is not what social media was created for.
This summer, my family suffered – and still is suffering – unspeakable loss and heartbreak. Raising the profile of campaigns such as CALM through social media can only be a good thing. It provides an ear to listen to or a shoulder to cry on to stamp out the stigma or culture that prevents men from seeking help when they need it, and using social media is not only free, but accessible for everyone. An amazing tool to raise awareness and do something to help people.
So as the season changes my attitude will too, social media can be and is used to make good things happen. I’ll continue to use my time more effectively on Facebook and Twitter, on the things and people that matter, and ultimately to reclaim social media as a tool for doing good.
Check out All about the Cause, a movement aiming to use social media for good, and nominate CALM as the cause they should support:
“We know that social media can do a lot of good. That’s why we’re hosting All about the Cause for Social Media Week London. But what will our cause be? We’ll be announcing the shortlist in September. Follow #CAUSE2013 to hear the news, then cast your vote via Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.”
Visit their site, check them out and reclaim social media! Don’t forget to nominate CALM! Together we can #savethemale!