By Ellen O’Donoghue
This is such an interesting question. To me, the answer is obvious – of course there is.
Social media has to be the best and worst thing that has happened to our generation.
People literally have numerous different groups that they share and filter what they are sharing towards different audiences all of the time. It’s as ridiculous as it is amazing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. But holy god, some people do take advantage of it.
I am a big over-sharer. I literally have an article I wrote a year or two ago linked in my Instagram bio that states I have depression and details my experience with it.
However, in my opinion, that is a positive contribution to the platform. I cannot count the amount of people who have come up to me on nights out or just randomly popped up to me via text or something who have confided in me about their struggles, saying they hadn’t felt like they could tell anyone, until they saw and read my openness and normalisation of mental illness.
People enjoy seeing things about other peoples’ lives, hence why social media influencers are able to make a living by posting videos and pictures of their day to day activities.
People can also teach and learn crafts easily as a result of people sharing their passions with the world on social media too, but the million euro question remains:
Where do we draw the line?
Once you post something online, it remains there forever. People forget that a lot. You really have to watch what you type, because there is no plausible deniability for the world wide web. You either said it or you didn’t, and there’ll be receipts if you did.
Employers see it too. If I were you reading this, I’d go on my social media accounts after and check my privacy settings. If you were hiring and looked yourself up on social media, would you call yourself up for an interview based on what you see? How you interact with people publicly on social media is a clear reflection to potential employers of how you will interact with and react to colleagues at work.
You can literally tell when somebody does not have family members following their account on Instagram, Twitter, VSCO, or whatever social media you’re partial to using yourself.
Just think – would you be okay with your mammy reading or seeing what you post? Furthermore, would you actually like seeing what you post if you didn’t know the person posting it? If the answer is no, then you may think again about posting.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but my likes and retweets may hurt my job opportunities in the future. It’s like a modern day affirmation.
Without giving any spoilers, even in the Elisa Lam documentary recently released on Netflix, they discuss how she used her Tumblr page almost as a journal. And that, in my opinion, is precisely the problem.
Too many people in our generation, although also not confined to our generation, use social media as a personal diary to detail every minute of every second of their day.
Different platforms, according to my feeds, represent different aspects of peoples’ lives.
On Instagram, we have the pretty, attractive, positive yet empathetic vibes, where people support one another and drama still ensues, but just isn’t that common (or dramatic). However, the filters on this app are not confined to the photos. Instagram also presents, for the most part, a controlled and filtered perspective of people’s lives.
Facebook is just the land of the middle aged. It’s what our children will refer to Twitter as in 20-30 years, I assume. You can’t open your newsfeed without seeing some Karen giving out about restrictions and vaccines, or their child’s dirty nappy, or just blatantly stating that they and their children are going to break Covid-19 5km restrictions because they ‘deserve it’.
It’s all a wee bit ridiculous if you ask me.
Twitter however? That’s a whole different ball game.
Between Trump and his cult following, NUIG Confessions and their cult following, or just random people and their cult followings. I’d get into the whole Trump thing but to be honest, I just don’t have the energy. That isn’t the point of this piece.
Social media brings a whole new aspect and region to local, national and international celebrities. Just a few good tweets seen and interacted with by the right people, and boom – you’re on Buzzfeed. It doesn’t even have to be completely your own idea or experience, but apparently no one cares when you’ve gone viral.
I try to do my best to stay away from any controversy on Twitter. Everything seems to be overly politicised.
With the amount of oversharing of people’s lives that ensues, you would think that users would at least have a bit of respect and listen to other people’s views.
It’s kind of like a game of ‘who can shout loudest, have the biggest opinion, or have the worst experience’. Don’t get me wrong, Twitter, and all social media, has been a godsend for advocacy, between mental health advocacy or the recent image based sexual abuse scandal in which so many people were affected, among many other things.
However, among all of that, is the big bag Twitter brigade. I feel like some people live their lives on the back of the little white bird in the Twitter logo. They have such a loud voice online, but in real life, they wouldn’t say boo to a bird.
On Twitter, it’s like you can’t voice your opinion for fear that somebody who has more followers than you disagrees with it and decides to set their tribe upon you to give you hate.
Twitter is a place of expression, where you’re afraid to voice your opinion, even if only slightly controversial, for fear of receiving hate from those who preach freedom of speech – but only if they agree with what you’re saying.
We now live in the land of the free and land of the keyboard warriors.
But hey, welcome to the twenty-first century.
Who needs a diary when you have a newsfeed?