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Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. It would be hard for many of us to imagine a world without Facebook, Twitter and the like. This is especially true for our children but I have noticed more and more of my generation actively using these accounts.
I have never been a fan of Twitter but I am on Facebook. I first joined about eight years ago when my daughter had to work away from home for six months. I remember there being a few giggles about mum having a Facebook page as it was very much the domain of the young back then. For me it was a very easy way to keep in touch and share photos. I could still feel part of her life and she was able to stay connected with family and friends.
Those were the golden days; when most status updates were genuine news or comments. Things have changed now and not necessarily for the better. There are still lots of positive elements but quite a few negatives are creeping in.
On the positive side, it is still great to catch up with distant relatives. I have an uncle who emigrated to Australia. Now that he is retired he regularly updates us with his travels around Oz in his camper van and I love to browse through his photos. But my heart sinks when another friend posts 147 photos of a drunken night out. I feel a strange obligation to look at them but I'm beginning to learn that I don't have to! My husband seems to click on every "you won’t believe what happens next" video. Many of these are pranks or scams and I am very wary of them, although I can't resist the funny cat clips which seem appear every day. "Cats and cucumbers" is the best!
Another positive thing is being able to reach a huge audience, whether you are fundraising or trying to reunite a lost item with its owner. I get lots of pleas to keep a look out for missing dogs! But for every plus there is a minus and in this case the downside is that malicious comments or compromising photos can be circulated to millions at the touch of a button, leaving the unfortunate victim exposed to ridicule and abuse. Cyber bullying is rife among teenagers and celebrities are not immune either. I was reading about Sheridan Smith who was the subject of tirade of abuse on Twitter recently. Who would want to be famous?!
What annoys me most is the adverts. Say you have been browsing for a wedding outfit, your Facebook page will be full of suggestions next time you visit it. I know this is clever marketing and there are clever people sitting in an office making this happen but it feels like Big Brother is watching your every move. Actually there is something that annoys me even more; photos of people's food. I'm really not interested in how big their burger is or what a massive plate of pasta they are about to eat. Now I am beginning to sound like a grumpy old woman!
The truth is that I am probably addicted to Facebook. One of the first things I do in the morning is to log on and see who's been doing what! I can't resist some of the funny video clips and have been known to do the odd quiz (although I never publish the results). It makes me feel connected with the outside world and I wouldn't be without it.