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Blog : Posts tagged with 'social networking'

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Good friends

In which we think suicide clusters are overhyped; and try not to be a drama llama


There’s been a lot in the news recently about young people killing themselves, allegedly to draw attention to themselves online. The whole story seems slightly odd, with little evidence for it, but it’s been raised by an MP so it got itself in the news. Most of the people in the alleged suicide cluster are young men, the highest-risk suicide group. I fully support raising suicide awareness and suicide prevention, but it seems rather like fear-mongering to try to place blame on social networking. There were teen suicides and “suicide clusters” years ago, long before social networking was invented.

I know from experience that suicidal feelings are something which people should always take seriously, and that internet messaging, by both its speed and lack of emotion, could easily make worse. But nevertheless – and because it is that serious – I don’t like the feel of people jumping on the exaggeration bandwagon without evidence, or trying to use the threat of others’ suicide to gallop off on their own over-dramatic high horse.* I’ve been on the internet for a while now,** I was a chatroom user quite a lot when I was a student, and I’ve seen people come into chatrooms and make darkly deniable threats like: “you shouldn’t be so nasty to X. If you keep being nasty to people in here and people end up dying, how would you feel?” Whether X is in the pits of depression, or just mildly irked, and whatever your intentions are, that’s a childish and nasty thing to do.

If you’re a friend to someone, and you think they’re being upset because of people on the internet, then the only thing to do is get them offline. Get them to put down the keyboard, go outside, and get some fresh air. Go and take away their network cable yourself if you really have to. But don’t just go around telling other people what they’re about to do. Don’t go around trying to amplify the drama, because people are only going to think that at heart you’re trying to make yourself the centre of attention. If you’re a real friend, go and help them, quietly and without fuss. Because help is what friends are for.

* or “drama llama”, as one internet friend memorably said.

** I can’t believe it’s over ten years since I first got online. The internet was in black and white back in those days – no, really: this was on a Macintosh Classic II, one of the last black and white only Apple models.

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Popularity

In which we wonder how useful social networking is


Chatting to Vee last night, she said: maybe she should cut down on social websites. She showed me the list of sites she’s got profiles on. Seventeen. Maybe she’s overdoing it a little. I have at least five at the last count, at least one of which lies derelict and abandoned.

Gordon, too, recently wrote about this. There are so many social websites out there that, if you’re not careful, they become nothing more than a time-sink. Or, the other extreme; you leave abandoned profiles scattered across the internet like so much silent litter.

Now, social interaction has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks, ever since my friend Maz called me an ignorant and antisocial git. This was largely because I hadn’t popped round to put up some shelves for her like I’d promised; but she’s not the only person to have complained that I don’t keep in touch with my friends as much as I should do. The solution to that, though, isn’t networking websites with long lists of “friends”. What’s missing is deep interaction. Going on Facebook to throw a sheep at someone is meaningless; writing them a letter or two is what counts.

Sites like Facebook are kind of pointless, except as an address book and a distraction. At least, they’re pointless as far as building up real, meaningful relationships are concerned. The social sites that are useful, though, are the ones which have some genuine purpose other than being a list of friends. Last.FM,* for example, or Flickr. I’ve always been too lazy to upload photos to Flickr, although I keep meaning to. I have a backlog of photos going back about a year, that are unsorted and mostly unseen; occasionally I dribble a few onto this site. So, I’m going to use Flickr more.** I’m going to spend more effort on the friends and acquaintances I already have, rather than collect more I don’t really know. I’m going to stick with the social networks I have, but only because, hopefully, I might become less of an ignorant git in the future. The only way to do that is with real interaction, not a quick Facebook poke.

* Well, it’s useful if you’re a music geek

** Partly because I’ve started playing with the maps. I love it. Photos and maps in one place – what more could a geek ask for?

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Sucked in

In which we succumb to peer pressure


I’m always too late with the next internet craze. After three people bugging me about it within a week, I’ve bowed to the peer pressure and joined Facebook.

On the other hand: I let it churn through my address-book and add the minimal number of friends it found – and I discovered that two of them are using pictures I’ve taken as their Facebook profile shots. Which can’t be bad.

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