Social Media and Me

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I joined Facebook 8 years ago. I remember the joy of seeing friend’s photos, the hilarity of their jokes, the feeling of bonding even if they were far away. It was like having 100 pen-pals, all of whom were witty and entertaining, even if they were having a bad day and their posts were sad it felt like you could do something, help with words or a thumbs up. I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it, after all, I hadn’t spoken to anyone I went to school with since leaving school until Facebook reintroduced me to many old friends. Without those friends from school I wouldn’t have organised the school reunion and who knows if I ever would have bumped into my old school boyfriend somewhere else? (We’re now living together and building a bonkers new family and life, I have never been happier.) I have also used Facebook as a platform for my writing, which has helped me gain confidence and encouraged me to write more regularly. I have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to social media.
Is it me, or has Facebook changed beyond recognition? I feel it was inevitable, nothing’s great forever, right? The arrival of many other social media outlets has diluted Facebook, along with their insistence on putting stuff on your timeline that you have no interest in. People are moving away from it, so now when I go on, I don’t feel like I have pen-pals anymore, I feel a bit used and dirty somehow. I still look, most days, I still hope for the old feeling to come back but it’s getting further away.
I have turned to Twitter instead. I tried Twitter a few years ago and I’ll be honest, I didn’t get it at all. I gave up very quickly. I came back to it this year, amidst so much political turmoil I wanted to try to gauge what people really think about it all, here and across the pond. I followed Trump for shits and giggles, that man shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near social media, but it is entertaining, he’s a bit like a cross between Prince Phillip and Hitler. I didn’t find what I was looking for politically, but I have found a branch of Twitter that enthrals me; writers.
I started writing flash fiction on Twitter in July, this coincided with me flipping my life upside down and felt like a good way to keep in touch with myself and my creativity without spending hours that I didn’t have at a keyboard. People started to like it. I followed more and more writers and they followed me. It’s taken 4 months for me to go from less than 50 followers to 830, most of whom are writers of some sort. It boosts not only my soul but my confidence to think that 40-50 people a day read something I have written. Maybe one day it will help if I ever get around to publishing my book but even if it doesn’t it is a lovely community to be part of.
When I started on Twitter, I assumed it was like Facebook and only people you knew would communicate with you. I slowly realised that if you comment on somebody’s work, that makes them look at yours, almost always eliciting a response. The best thing is, none of the writing community say a bad word about each other’s work, you either like it or move on without a word. At first this was difficult for me, I am a grade A grammar snob and don’t get me started on spelling, but I am learning to overlook the obvious glitches and just read without technical judgement. Don’t get me wrong if I was to put something on and ask for constructive criticism, I would get it, but if it’s not asked for it doesn’t come. It’s a real warm feeling that complete strangers from all over the world take the time to read and like your work.
I tried Instagram a few years ago too, I hated it, all those filters and strange pictures. Social media is a most peculiar creature, many people exaggerate their lives to disguise something. Many people try to use it as a form of counselling, which, in my opinion is more often than not likely to have bad consequences. Honesty is lacking on social media, especially for the younger generation, honesty and tact. It can be vapid and depressing sometimes but I have found a little, quiet, world where I don’t physically know anybody, yet I have some of the best support for my writing I have ever had. This can only be a good thing.
I miss elements of Facebook from the old days, I still try to post sometimes but it feels pointless as I know many of my friends won’t see it or just don’t use the platform themselves anymore. Page and I will still keep blogging for as long as somebody reads it but I really am getting my social media kicks elsewhere. Where are you getting yours?
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