Friday 9 August 2013

Antisocial Media

I was reading this article, "Six ideas for making social media safe", on BBC News yesterday and it really struck a chord.

Not just because I'm a total social media addict, but because I know that my younger sister uses sites like quite a bit...

It made me remember the days when I'd come home from school, throw my school bag down and rush straight to the house computer, impatiently waiting for dial-up broadband to work so I could chat on MSN Messenger to my whole year group who I'd spent the entire day with already.

I remember the gossip, the group chats, the spilled secrets and of course the hilarious screen names (I think I had filthy 50 Cent lyrics as mine the majority of the time - something my fourteen year old virgin self knew sweet FA about...). But I also remember things getting catty and bitchy, with classroom notes and playground rivalry being carried on over instant messaging.

Secretly, if things turned a little nasty, I could get away with feigning just the right amount of protesting to mum before she pulled the plug and stole the landline to phone a friend.

Now it's different though. Today we have unlimited, all-consuming, relentless social media. You can switch from screen to smartphone dipping in and out of a plethora of social media platforms all designed to be as addictive as possible. Don't get me wrong, I know I pose a risk here of sounding like my grandma - I love social media. I'm an addict. But I can see how much more of a problem it is for young, impressionable teenagers who are out to fit in.

I'd like to think that my thirteen year old sister, with two older sisters and an older brother, is disillusioned by the idea of a 'cyber bully' typing hatred online (she was better at sarcasm when she was ten than I am today, and sure knows how to get what she wants...) but you never know do you? Or, if she was bothered by something, that she'd confide in me about it.

As the eldest sibling, without that big-sister security blanket, I think that maybe I had it hardest - but that was in a world where a bitchy text message stopped after 160 characters because at 10p a message, you weren't wasting your credit on NOBODY (and how offensive can "u fkin hor" really be when it doesn't even make sense..)

Can any of the tactics the BBC describe work? I don't know. But tragedies like poor Hannah Smith need to stop, soon.

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