It is an interesting debate that rages in many homes, workplaces and web pages the world over. I am referring of course to social media. Yes I know there have been a gazillion words written for and against this subject, but get over it already, I am writing more! You see I am not going to talk about the dumb ass effects it has on some people, nor the stupid shit kids say on their ”pages” to incite their trigger happy yokel parents into shooting the offending laptop until it is left bleeding and dead in a paddock! What a cruel way to treat a piece of beautiful technology!
So what I am going to write about is the potential benefits, and sometimes the pitfalls, of making that dreaded decision to sign your life away on one of these sites. In particular how it affected me. We are all aware of the double-edged sword that getting online entails, yet it seems as the world revolves through each year it is the only way everyone communicates now. That said, I personally still prefer to either pick up the phone or go see someone face to face, lest I start to feel like there isn’t really anyone out there any more and I am now living in a world similar to that of Lt. Col. Robert Neville in I AM LEGEND!! God forbid I walk outside to get devoured by weird freaky night mutants…
I must admit that I was a late starter on the social networking scene. Yes my demeanour was that of a snotty old fart who thought it was all a monumental waste of time and just another fad. That is until I had to start using in-house social media systems with my employer and I realised I was so very wrong! We have chat programs, virtual meeting places, several variants of face book style programs and so on. After a few years of struggling and fighting to minimise my use of email and these other tools (old fart syndrome again!) it became the only way to communicate in order to work effectively. I had to use the tools of the business whether I liked it or not, and it didn’t take long for it to become normal and practical behaviour. My conversion had begun…..
This leads into the core of this little tale. A number of my family and old school friends had been using Facebook for a while, and of course the pressure flowed onto me to get online and reconnect with people I had not thought about in many many years… . I initially didn’t want to reconnect with anyone. Had no desire whatsoever. I had moved on from High School, shifted to another state and chosen to utterly obliterate any memories of my school age years. This was a choice I made consciously when I was young and I thought no more about it over the years that followed. That is until the time came where I was getting questions from family who were being questioned by old friends relentlessly. I couldn’t figure it out. Who the hell would care where I was now or what I had been doing for the past 25 years? I didn’t care so why would they?
Of course over a period of sustained “peer” pressure it is inevitable that one starts to see the cracks in ones resolve and one catches oneself occasionally wandering off mentally into the world of “I wonder happened to so and so?”. And so you can see that as I used this stuff at work and the mind was wandering, eventually any resistance I had slowly receded and I made the decision not to be an old fart any more. Sure the considerations were weighed up, like “what if so and so who I couldn’t stand contacts me?” The biggie for me was that I knew once I opened that Pandora’s box, there was no going back. The past would flood back like a tsunami and there was no shutting the door again. My sister convinced me that I was being a nutter and that I could just delete my FB profile and move on. Yeah right…
So off I went on my little journey. Initially tentative, but as time went on I started to wonder why I took so long to get on this bandwagon! It wasn’t long before I was reconnected with some wonderful people I had forgotten about, which as it turns out has enriched my life to no end. There are many new people I have connected with through my old friends who I never would have known existed were it not for social media. And then are the inevitable findings of lost friends. Early on I learnt the hard way that this is part of life. I had one friend in particular I wanted to find, and I searched to no avail. Then a mutual friend of mine and his popped up and the news was awful. My old mate had passed away some 10 years prior to me looking for him. It was a wake call up that as we get older people come and people go, and there is nothing we can do to stop it. That is indeed life and we can just keep moving forward or get run over!
And so now the view is that there are many upsides and many great people out there, both old and new, that can add value to my life. Of course there are some absolutely psycho bastards to be avoided too! After dabbling in writing for mags earlier in my life another good friend introduced me to blogging late last year. Another addition to my life and more great people. Thanks to Lyndon at TDoT my social media world expanded yet again which is awesome. Mostly!
So here’s to Old friends, New friends, and of course lets never forget Lost friends….