Hello Dear Reader, maybe you don’t know what Facebook is, or Instagram, or WhatsApp, but yesterday they went down on the entire world, but not in a sexy way. Facebook is the Face of Social Media, Instagram is the camera of Social Media, and WhatsApp is where we tell everyone what we are doing by private message. Twitter was where we were all taking the piss out of the aforementioned Social Media outlets last night.
This is a big thing in an ultra-connected world. At work I listen to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2, and they spent 30 minutes talking about it. It has featured on all the news bulletins that I have heard today. This is a big thing! So many of us have mobile phones, and I’m not talking about the indestructible Nokia phones, whose batteries are still working. I’m talking about “smartphones” that are so smart that they have degrees in smartness from Smarty-pants University. They are capable of so much more than the computers that sent men to the moon, and they fit into your pocket!
Some people with depression and social anxiety called in to say how they depend on Social Media to have a manageable contact with the outside world, others who use it to advertise their small businesses to those of us scrolling through, and others of us who are addicted and can’t put our phones down, because of the dreaded FOMO, or fear of missing out.
Whilst at work, my mind can wander, and something that comes back regularly is the desire to go back to my prep-school and tell them what the world is like in 2021, or forty years from now. Some of my masters were WW2 veterans, others were baby boomers, and some of them weren’t actually that mad, despite appearances. I remember one Maths lesson where the teacher told us to find arithmetic patterns in our times tables. I got three and had to find the pattern. My first algorithm. Now these algorithms are omnipresent and artificial intelligence is using them and running the world, especially on these platforms. Think back to Brexit, or the 2016 American elections.
Smug people came onto the programme saying how we had lost the power of conversation, or how come people just don’t pick up the phone. Some talked about the wake-up call. Others were talking about Gen Z, who have lost the power of communication. However, there is nuance everywhere, which is something these platforms like us to forget. I see people like my daughter, who is always on her phone, but she is conversing and communicating non-stop with her friends at school or a version of her tribe. My son does the same thing. They communicate differently. I often wonder what my First Form Master, Fr Gerald, would make of it all. Now we use emoticons to reply to some of our messages. Have we gone back to using hieroglyphs? Is that a problem? They say a picture can be worth a thousand words.
How did I manage? Not too badly. To begin with, I was worried that my Internet might not be working. But I soon found out what was happening. It wasn’t much of a hinderance. I still had my music on Amazon Music, and I was scanning negatives for my son. They were from 2016, and he shocked to see how he looked just 5 years ago. I think he used the word cringe. I missed putting them on Facebook to share them with the rest of my French family. Maybe Facebook has its uses after all, and shouldn’t the rule be able about moderation? Use it by all means, but don’t let it become your master. I’m still glad that they’re online again…