What Is Social Media Doing To Us?

Who doesn’t love social media? The technological equivalent of carrying a virtual round table of all our acquaintances and occasionally contributing something incredibly witty has been achieved.

A poke here or an RT there and the very essence of Britishness has been captured. Nothing says ‘we’re friends but I can’t be bothered spending any time with you whatsoever’ quite like it.

But while we’re busy regaling our lucky friendship groups with the latest skateboarding cat video or RT-ing something incredibly worthwhile that makes us look a) worldly and b) superior, we’ve missed those dark clouds forming on the horizon.

We thought that privacy debates and Twitter death threats to politicians were the real thorns in social media’s side, but recent research seems to be suggesting that social media has sinister undertones so brutal they’re beyond our wildest imaginations.

Expose our reputations and gain ownership of our images, but mess with our grammar? Now it’s personal.

So, who feels like a goldfish?

Social media has seen to it that public humiliation knows no bounds. Checking you’ve logged out of your account now demands the same level of importance as locking up your house, switching on the security light and putting up a sign reading ‘keep out, yer bastards’. All it took was a few ‘frapes’ here and there and the world has learnt that using the word ‘password’ for your password isn’t a good idea. Password123 isn’t brilliant either. You know who you are.

While the verb ‘to frape’ or ‘Facebook rape’ has not yet appeared in the Oxford dictionary (I checked) it can surely only be a matter of time? I went on the hunt for some of the funniest, most intelligent and creative instances of social media pillaging that the web had to throw at me. What instances of hilarious evilness did I find? ‘Changing their name is always effective’ and ‘changing their birthday is quite funny’. Harsh.

What is social media doing to us? Aside from obviously stunting our powers to spin a couple of Jimmy Carr-esque one-liners when cheekily changing someone else’s status, it’s left us to the mercy of every little oik who might ever walk in and find our account in the buff.

Clearly not everyone who gets a peek at someone else’s page is out to cause havoc, proven by an apologetic message from someone who had accidentally logged into someone else’s account, rejected some groups, accepted some friends, then realised, apologised, warned the user to change their password and logged out. It’s like the elves and the shoemaker gone digital!

Apparently, revenge is now best served digitally and publicly, and airing your dirty laundry for all to see has taken on a whole new meaning within the digital realm. Yes, it does seem odd when someone declares they are ‘lying scum who should rot in hell’ on their own page. Judging by some of the most brutal Facebook ex attacks, within every woman scorned there lies the power to hack the security systems of NASA, let alone Facebook.

I fear the day will come when police stations around the country are bombarded with agitated social networkers crying ‘Officer, I’ve been socially mugged’.

Damaging Our Skillz

2 b or nt 2 b, that is the condescended question. Last week Cambridge Professor David Abulafia has claimed essay writing standards have significantly dropped with the conventions used in social media messaging replacing good written English. Twitter and Facebook have been especially blamed for students using incorrect grammar, missing out vowels and substituting words for single letters.

Speaking as a generation who started secondary school around the time that text messaging was really taking off, I can confidently say that these students aren’t forgetting how to write properly or believe their essays can be written in 140 characters or less. They just can’t be bothered / have run out of time on the exam / started their coursework five hours before the deadline.

We weren’t writing about cloning sheep using ‘lmfao’ or ‘rotfl’ in our exams and until Mr Men goes street I think literacy is safe. Although saying that, they still give kid’s smiley face stickers. That could be classed as an emoticon. Clearly even the teachers ‘cba’ with words in the digital era. Are homophones ruining the English language? Discuss.

You Will Flash Your Mug On The Net

Get yourself out there or risk having a comedy spoof account set up in your name, it’s as simple as that. The Queen has got oneself a Twitter account, she’s up on our feeds daily, tweeting about Harry’s ‘chopper’.

If that’s not enough to get you dashing to the keyboard, an official government report has warned that people who fail to be sucked into the whole tweeting and posting and updating malarkey may find themselves socially marginalised or even be seen as ‘suspicious’.

While there’s no substitute for actually leaving the house and making real friends, now that Facebook has apparently reached saturation point, those dodgy social network avoiders will be forced to leave their caves and share their lives with the world.

You ate a banana? Tweet it. In a new relationship? You’re entire army of friends deserve to know, and reserve the right to research your partner and potentially judge if you’re punching above your weight.

This brings us onto another interesting piece of research which hit the press this week, snooping through acquaintances lives (polished to a shine for social media) is apparently having the green eyed monster effect on fellow networkers. Yep believe it or not, apparently people log out of their social media accounts feeling lonely, frustrated and angry after seeing what their friends have been up to.

Some friendly advice? If someone’s been to an all you can eat chocolate buffet in the Caribbean, just don’t go through their photos. Making the odd sarky comment about how the lobsters are bigger in Aldi isn’t big and it isn’t clever.

So social media. Basically it’s got us by the proverbial balls. Ignore it and become socially marginalised, engage in it and the English language will be replaced by the type of vowel-less grunts that’d topple Countdown in seconds.

But for now, I’ll sleep soundly in the knowledge that I’m not in the ‘suspicious’ minority and can still form a cohesive sentence. For the most part.

  • Written by on 28th January 2013 at 16:40
  • “Fluid Creativity is an award-winning, multi-service digital agency based in Manchester.”
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