I have just watched the Netflix documentary 'The Social Dilemma' that deals with the algorithms and business models behind monetising social media, in particular Facebook. It is a sobering watch. Whenever my attention is turned towards such things I find myself thinking very hard about my own use of social media. Here is where I currently stand...
FACEBOOK Binned it a few weeks ago, mainly down to the volume of incoming posts from the (few) natural history groups that I was a member of. Also friend and family pressure lead me to 'friend' people who then gummed up my timeline with vacuous and pointless images of their latest meals, pouts and 'look at me' moments. I have not missed it at all.
INSTAGRAM A very short membership of this platform, which I joined to access a local Art Group account and I left due to - you've guessed it - pressure from friends and family to 'befriend' them who then gummed up my timeline with vacuous and pointless images of their latest meals, pouts and 'look at me' moments. I have not missed it at all.
TWITTER My God this platform infuriates me. It is my number one method of gleaning instantaneous news of what birds, moths, butterflies and plants are being seen. It has become an indispensable way of getting my information out, and other's information in. It has also become my number one method of being shown how little I am seeing and how much others are. This, of course, is grossly slewed in favour of the lucky few - 99% of us are those whose noses are squashed up against the shop window looking in at the lucky ones who are feasting on success - and don't they like to rub our noses in it! And all of that congratulatory nonsense dished out to people who have jumped in a car to follow directions to see a bird that somebody else had found - yeah, top birding mate (ironic face emoji). I see 2,200 House Martins zip through at Priest Hill and punch the air. Within minutes my bubble is burst by news of the 13,000+ at 'nearby' Leith Hill. I bird all day for a few crumbs of migrant delight to be assaulted by images of Siberian Thrush, White's Thrush, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, all found by birders - just like me - but who have had the good sense to position themselves in a better position. Maybe not 'just like me' after all... Still hanging on, although the increasing number of adverts is annoying.
WHAT'S-APP Sounds simple this one. Groups of like-minded people disseminating information, pure and simple - until you get a stream of banal chat going on that would be boring and out of place across a garden fence. Still hanging on.
BLOGGER Still here, at least I have some control over input and frequency. Maybe a dying platform populated by older people. The long-form narrative has little place in our sound-bite times. But I'm old-school and will keep on blogging.
The way these platforms are being manipulated is frightening. Society is suffering, what is true and what is false are being blurred. What I really should do is delete the lot. Live in the now. Converse with those that I have a real connection with, by actually using my voice or sending an e-mail. Drastically reduce my time looking at a phone or tablet. Am I brave enough to do so? At the moment, just a bit. Just a little bit.