Social Media. What a strange and frequently misleading name that is.
I often think that social media, and twitter in particular, is like being in a busy local pub, with a cross section of people all having opinions, some more vociferous than others, having a laugh, chatting about the telly and listening to songs on the jukebox.
The twitter I inhabited from around the time of the referendum until recently was like going into that dodgy pub down the road where everything you say could potentially, and often did, cause a punch-up.
Since the disastrous Brexit vote, using social media has really shown its nasty side. Initially the divide was between brexiters and remainers with point scoring on ‘facts’ being the main topic of interaction (and yes I hold my hand up for frustrated tweets and Facebook posts). However as time has evolved not only has the war continued between these factions but increasingly there has been a rise in demonisation within the remain camp of those who don’t share the same political views. To be part of the remainer ‘clique’ it appears that you must only support the Lib Dems and/or attach yourself to a centrist group to defeat Brexit (at any costs, without any manifesto and led by someone with an interesting political past).
To be clear about my position I have always been a Labour supporter, never waivering but recently have found the political leadership and manifestos of the Green Party growing in appeal. My voting constituency of the past 30 years has more often than not, not had a Labour candidate stand, so limited options have led to voting tactically for Lib Dems despite not feeling confident of their ability (borne out in their appalling coalition behaviour in my view). My initial joy at the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, someone who I thought would put Labour back on track to their ethos of a party representing the left of politics, has subsequently wained as he pursues a stance on Brexit that I believe is more about appeasing and attracting ukip supporters than actually representing the many he purports to be representing. So I’m red with splodges of green and I wear my political heart openly.
A visit to twitter whilst being open about your politics was no longer a fun way to while away some time, no longer could you assume that like-minded folk would happily debate stuff and put the world to rights with you….. a visit to twitter was filled with trepidation.
After a lot of thought about whether to give up on twitter I finally took the decision to unfollow some people who were making a visit there less pleasant than it should be (along with others who never interact or only tweet misery). As for Facebook well I keep my friends there to a minimum and tolerate the odd one or two who hold views that I find unpalatable so that’s manageable and serves its main purpose (for me) of sharing and seeing family photos. And Instagram is just a fun way to show off your life in photos and never, in my experience, crosses the barrier to nastiness.
The result has been a better experience of social media, with Twitter in particular harking back to the good old days of fun banter with a balance of opinion on everything from politics to tv, food and clothes.
From now on I’ll stick to my local, it’s much more sociable.