Is social media becoming a mean place?

So we were having a discussion in the office this morning about how sometimes it’s frightening to just make a passing comment on social media about something that’s happening, without someone jumping down your throat.

And I don’t even mean anything controversial.

For instance, during the last tube strike I tweeted something like “Just the thought of tomorrow’s commute is giving me a headache.” Someone then decided to very helpfully tweet back “Use your legs, lazy Londoner” or words to that effect…

Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m sarcastic and even if you don’t, if you look back on previous tweets etc, knows I’m partial to a satirical quip.

Taylor Swift

Picture courtesy of YouTube

Now I know that in this day and age, people couldn’t care less about doing a bit of stalking research or even engaging in a thing called ‘having a sense of humour.’ Equally I know sarcasm isn’t easily conveyed online but it feels like Facebook and especially Twitter have become a breeding ground for spiteful, judgemental trolls.

People seem to think it’s fair game to have a pop at journalists in particular. At the end of the day, there is a real person behind the words and it’s about time, people started transferring some manners to the online world.

You wouldn’t tell someone on the tube that you hated their outfit.

You wouldn’t tell someone in the supermarket not to buy a microwave meal.

And you certainly wouldn’t just go up to someone and call them all the names under the sun.

So why do it elsewhere?

I’m not saying that people aren’t entitled to their opinions, a bit of healthy debate is good for the soul apparently but to be outright mean or respond with “YOUR WRONG !!!” isn’t constructive nor grammatically correct…

Instagram appears to be one of the only platforms where people are actually nice to each other, to people they don’t even know, purely because they’ve stumbled across something through searching a tag.

Why fuel so much energy into being hateful? What do people actually get out of it? And why not actually explore the context around something first before commenting?

And if you can’t be bothered with that – if you’ve got no kind words to say, you should say nothing at all.

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Stat(us)ing the obvious

Most of us are guilty of this on social networking sites, whether it’s snowing or you’re giving a running commentary of a football match/Eastenders/TOWIE, we all state the absolute bleedin’ obvious all the time.

WHY? 

It’s clear that for many of us it’s an absolute pet peev, usually expressed in the form of [insert snow-related post here] so why do we feel the need to write often pointless statuses when everyone knows its cold? Surely the whole point of “What’s on your mind?” should be something far more interesting than West Ham finally winning a match (sports fans check Sky Sports) or whether it’s wrong that Mario should be texting 40 other girls on TOWIE  (just sit down, shut up and watch it).

”]Is it because we feel a need to identify with one another? Like some sort of conformity, the whole sheep brigade phenomena where we feel we need to pipe up and get involved in order to feel like we belong. Is anyone’s status on Facebook actually unique anymore? Isn’t the whole point of social networking to  be nosy get to know someone a little bit more rather than receive a running commentary of X Factor (urgh), where everyone is more or less harping on about the same thing?

Through habit myself and many of my journalism classmates have adapted to a reporter’s way of thinking “So what?” when writing a status. When writing a news story or a feature, in order to encourage the reader to continue reading your article, you have to ask yourself the question, “So what?” “What is the point of this story?” and although it sounds a tad pretentious when it comes to social networking, I think this principle should sometimes be used. Whether you like or not, if people regularly read your statuses, they begin to build up a picture of what they think you’re like and it might not necessarily be the picture you want to be. In fact and yes I’m going to be brutally honest here, I’ve done Facebook culls after becoming bored of the same drivel on some people’s statuses.

Are we all following the herd?

Yes, hands up, I have a massive habit of quoting from TV shows or movies when I’m watching them and usually I’m not alone in doing this. However, I know for a fact that most people don’t wish to be given a running update of the weather forecast when they know it’s cold outside, we all know it’s cold outside  and that’s why we’re doing what most people are doing right now- curled up on the sofa in your layers with a mug of hot chocolate and debating whether you want to go out tonight and risk pneumonia or not.

It’s useful in some ways because sometimes if you’ve been stuck in work all day or you’ve been away on holiday (yes I refuse to log onto any social networks when I’m on a break) Facebook can be like a mini gossip column and every now and again, you find something juicy. Sometimes, I won’t have seen the news or read a paper all day but then I see a buzz online. In fact, recent surveys have shown that most people get news from social media rather than a newspaper.

But next time you write a status, just try and have a little bit of originality because seeing a whole newsfeed full of:

“It’s snowing!!!”

“OMG…SOOOOO COLD BRRRR!”

and “I hope it snows enough so we’re sent home from school…”

It’s boring! I’m sitting here in my thermals with the heating up to 25C…

No shit, Sherlock.