Love and Banality in Social Media

Today’s post for #blogjune is inspired by Megan Nicol Reed’s column in The Sunday Star Times’ Sunday Magazine. Reed writes that social media is the home of “banality” and “Twitter is just another vehicle for those aboard to wedge their own heads up their arses a little further”.

I love Reed’s colourful way with words, and I respect her views about social media. I always enjoy reading her columns, even this one. However in this case I have a different view. But first I’d like to say that I don’t think it really matters whether you’re on board with social media or not. It’s a personal choice whether you engage with it or not, and as DK, the social media guru (@justadandak) periodically reminds his own network, “Real life has more bandwidth”. There’s nothing quite like getting out on the mountain bike, or having a face to face conversation with friends, family, or workmates.

However I don’t agree with Reed when she says “there is no love on Facebook. Nor is there on Twitter”. From my observations I see plenty of it. Especially on Twitter. Perhaps it is the nature of the people in my network or the type of people I follow, but I think social media is full of kindness, generosity, and much uplifting of spirits in general. When people tweet, or share a link, or say something that’s important to them, other people are generally very encouraging. And if they’re not, then it’s easy to unfriend or unfollow. There’s a real learning culture there too – Twitter has become my best personal learning network.

Reed notes that FB is losing millions of users, and I admit I’m getting bored with it, especially now I have to navigate around all the ads that seem to be taking over. I’m not into Candy Crush Saga or NZ on Sale thanks very much. Maybe FB is losing a bit of its love factor. But Twitter and other social networks like Tumblr are still growing, and I think it is because they are overwhelmingly positive and encouraging places. I’m not naive, they do have their dark corners, but they’re avoidable.

As to social media being the home of banality, yes, there’s definitely a lot of that. But there’s also a lot of inspirational, clever, witty, incisive commentary coming through. Following the Twitter conversation whilst the Marriage Equality legislation was going through Parliament was incredible. There’s a lot of irony, but not so much cynicism. And what’s wrong with a bit of banality anyway, it’s pretty much the stuff of everyday life, so why not share a bit of food p0rn every now and again. Like this, a chocolate sacher forte my son made:

Most of the conversations we have with each other in real life are pretty banal (unless you’re the Dalai Lama perhaps) and that’s what many people say Twitter is all about: the conversations.

So thanks to Megan Nicol Reed for inspiring my post. It’s helped me clarify why I enjoy social media. I don’t think anyone is missing out by not using it, but I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon.

So here’s to Twitter and its ilk. Long may the love and banality last.

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