Once upon a time I wrote on using social media as a way to stay in touch with friends, which many of us have a hard time doing, especially when said friends are scattered around the globe.
There’s a lot more to social media than that, though.
For instance, I’m keeping Facebook and Twitter very much separate. I don’t need to follow my friends on Twitter or vice versa, because I already get all their updates on Facebook. I don’t see a point to repeat something I am writing on Facebook also on Twitter. The two platforms have next to nothing in common and serve very different purposes, which should be acknowledged accordingly.
I tweet my latest blog and use all the hashtags I can think of that will promote it. That works surprisingly well for me. I also tweet out about petitions I find worth signing or links to articles that are interesting. I sometimes cheekily follow other creative people on Twitter. Some of them are very well known, some not so much. I make comments like most other people do and admit that I am somewhat delighted when I get a reply or an RT, which has happened a number of times. Given that most of these people have thousands of followers, it is almost an achievement to be noticed.
I’ve never asked anyone to follow me. I’ve never followed anyone, who asked me to do so. I follow the people I like or admire for some reason or another and unless they shamelessly self-promote, I tend to keep following them. I like to follow those with a sense of humour and most of the people I follow don’t take themselves too seriously.
Lucy Lawless is quite a troll on Twitter, but cares deeply about environmental issues, especially drilling in the Arctic Sea. Evangeline Lilly starts discussion groups with her followers frequently that they have suggested, exchanging thoughts on books, LOST episodes or their current music lists. She is very much an activist as well, posting environmental issues as well as privacy and other political issues.
David Hewlett posts photos of his morning face every day and makes snarky comments.
It’s endearing to see how Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman tell each other they love each other on Twitter when they’re touring different parts of the world, one with her band, the other for his latest book. One catches an almost voyeuristic glimpse into their relationship, one that strikes me as unusual and enviable.
Those people aside, I also follow BBC News and the TfL Northern Line tweets. I need to know what’s going on at a glance and it is nice to just click through to the link of the main article to everything that I am interested in, skipping sports and celebrity news.
I follow on average 30 Twitter users/accounts, discarding those that never tweet or are too self-absorbed or I find I get nothing out of. I don’t want to follow more than that, but occasionally pick up another account here and there that I hadn’t known and am curious about. Time will tell, if I keep following them.
It is pretty much impossible following more than three or for dozen Twitter accounts, unless none of them use Twitter very much. If you have a ton of followers on top of that, who’re all vying for your attention, you can spend all day on Twitter and still won’t have caught up.
I don’t have the time for that and even now skip a lot of the tweets or skim over them to see, if anything catches my eye.
The contrast of shocking news and someone posting their daily cute can be quite staggering. Nowadays Twitter seems to be the first place one finds the very latest breaking news. I’ve found myself wondering every now and then, how long it takes for some people I follow to remark on it. When James Gandolfini died a few days ago, Europe knew about it very quickly, but it took almost the rest of our day for some people on Twitter to acknowledge it across the pond.
When you read something like “my heart goes out to Texas” I immediately wonder what happened in Texas. And find out very quickly about a plant explosion. Holla!
Lest we forget Instagram. I’m not using it, but thought about it just before they wanted to change their privacy regulations and announced to the world that they’d be using the photographs uploaded by said world for whatever purpose they like. That was the gist of it and it was the only thing the world heard and started deleting their user accounts. Instagram retracted very quickly and that was that.
There are many other platforms to use; “Whosay” is out there, “WhatsApp” is very popular as a chat app for the phone. We have Pinterest, LinkedIn for professionals and many, many blogging platforms, among them Tumblr and WordPress the most popular ones.
Social Media has lead to our lives being online more and more. Hence “Social Media Life”. My friends are online, my writing is online, random thoughts are online, I bank online, I shop online, I read my news online, look for jobs online and a new room. I book my holidays online, plan my travels online, check movie times online.
There is little I don’t do online and if someone so chose to, they could quite easily piece my life together from my online activity. And doing exactly that is very easy for someone with the knowledge and the tools.
The question for me is: why? Who the heck cares enough to check what I am doing online? Whose business is it anyway? Have I ever done anything online that someone might want to blackmail me with? Possibly. Do I care? No, honestly not. My online activity isn’t illegal (as far as I know anyway, or sometimes maybe pretend to know). And I can’t say that I’ve ever done anything online, or clicked on a page online, that hasn’t been done or visited by a million others before me.
It’s a slippery slope, however, and just because you couldn’t blackmail me with any of it, because I don’t care enough to keep it a secret, I would be quite upset if I ever found out that someone has pieced together my life from my online activity.
What I put into my blog is one thing. What I share on Facebook is my business and I keep my privacy settings as tight as possible. But everything else I do online as part of my daily routine, business, shopping or whatever else, should be of absolutely no concern to anybody but me. No one has the right to pry and especially not the government, any government. Or your employer for that matter, or future employer.
If I give out my blog, I do so with a purpose. And I am fully aware of everything I have written here. None of it is a secret and I put it out there voluntarily. Facebook I keep private, even so I am quite tame and there’s not much anyone can glean from my FB posts or shares. I keep it private on principle.
But again, this is not what I am talking about. Check out the video I have posted just before, if you haven’t done so yet. That is what I am talking about and what I find scary to a point of threatening and completely unacceptable.
If I felt a need to, I could go offline tomorrow. It would make a few things rather inconvenient, especially banking, because I like to do it online. But everything else is doable. I don’t want to go offline, though, because I don’t feel I should need to or feel threatened by what a government may want to find out about me, because they thought I posted something subversive.
To be really blunt let me put it like this: Fuck off Big Brother. Nobody wants you.
Most of us watched the movie and/or read the book. There are plenty of movies, TV shows or books out there dealing with some form of oppression or another. It is going on in the real world and has been a huge part in history. Somewhere there’s always one group oppressing another.
Social Media should be social and private to those involved in it and not scanned by a third party, whoever they may be. The government should stay out of our private lives. Full stop. The vast majority of us tends to be harmless unless threatened.
Nobody has the right to infringe on our right to privacy. No one should be allowed let alone capable of checking out our online presence. No social media platform that I have an account with should try and sell my data to someone, who wants to advertise their products to me so I will go and buy them.
I’m out of there in a New York minute, if they don’t sort themselves out. And it should go without saying that we all should be much more diligent. Search your own name on Google and see what you can find. Log out of all your social media sites and see how much of your Facebook profile you can see when searching it and if it is more than you’re comfortable with, you may want to change your privacy settings.
Big Brother is not a dystopian future anymore. It is quite real. We’re not yet in such an extreme situation as the characters in the book. But 1984 became a classic for a reason.
I tend to hope for the best and not see the worst in everything. But I also prefer to cover all bases. So I’ve asked myself, if it ever came to it, would I be in the resistance? Would I fight Big Brother?
You bet I would.