Saturday, November 21, 2015

Dragons on Social Media

Now here's a thing. I have an ambivalent attitude to Facebook. It shows in the fact that I very rarely
post directly to it; I will share something that I find interesting or provocative but apart from that anything that appears from me comes through other social media outlets, primarily Twitter. But I use Facebook because it's useful - useful for contacting people, for posting group updates, for finding people.

That said, there are some implications in using such a medium. I came up against one yesterday, when I discovered quite by accident that someone I know in real life (RL) had "unfriended" me. (Vile phrase, but that's what it says). I only found out when I wanted to tag this person, to draw his attention to a piece of local news that could have had an effect on him. What could I have done to offend him? Had I snubbed him hideously? Maligned him in public?

Not being the reticent type, I asked him. His reply indicated that he'd found my posts too limited in range (i.e. not interesting to him personally). I'll not say anything about the things he posts about, nor about the online "friendships" he has struck up with people who are actually my friends. (I know - I've just said it. No details, though ...) 

And I realised - or at least I think I did - that actually it was ignorance that had caused him to cut me off in this unseemly fashion. For it is perfectly possible to hide the posts of someone you find tedious without actually consigning them to virtual outer darkness. Either he didn't care (so not ignorant) or he hadn't realised.

The fact is that I don't actually care either. But it brought home to me the added dimension of having an online connection with someone you see on a regular basis. It made me want to shun Facebook, as a goodly number of people do - but that's just silly. When I suggested it to another friend (RL as well as virtual) she protested that she enjoys my posts and links. So I'll just carry on for now.

But I realise that my attitude to this chap whose grasp of the niceties of relationships is so inadequate has changed. Perhaps I've learned something about him that it's good to have found out before it impinged on my everyday life. And I am reflecting on the fact that I originally signed up for F/b (long after I was an early adopter of Twitter) because it allowed for a more varied collection of people to stay in touch - former pupils, former colleagues, my family - and that is as important as it ever was.

But I shall think twice before automatically accepting the "friendship" of people I consider acquaintances - for there be dragons.

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