Monday, 7 March 2016

Social media is supposed to

generate superficial friendships. 
Yes, there are people with hundreds or even thousands of "friends" on Facebook and whatever other like sites there are. People can accumulate thousands of "followers" on Twitter and so on.
But are these people really "friends" or "followers" or whatever else you care to call them?
When I first ventured, very cautiously, into social media I wasn't too sure it was something I wanted to be bothered with. There was the idea of using "Twitter" for work purposes or I probably wouldn't have bothered.
Twitter has been extremely useful for work. It means that aid workers who are out and about "in the field" can contact me quickly at my desk. I can dig out a piece of information, a word, a name, a phone number, a location, or something else. I can do it more quickly and easily than they can. They can concentrate on their job instead. These people are not "friends". Some of them can be complete strangers. It doesn't matter.
But there are other people I have come to know in other ways. Most of them write, some of them write very successfully indeed.
But they don't just write. They read. 
I sat down here and wrote a blog post the other morning about my beloved father, the person I refer to as the "Senior Cat". I love him dearly and when he fell in the bathroom I needed to say so - probably in more detail than most people needed.  
But it was the response here and on Facebook that stunned me - and him. People have never met him in real life. Only one of you has ever spoken to him on the phone but you were concerned for him. There were messages of concern for him - and me.
It helped me get through a very, very difficult day. Had he hit his head just a little further towards the back of his neck he wouldn't be here. We haven't told him how close it was. I didn't want to think about it at the time but I had to. Being able to sit here and write something and then, more importantly, have people respond in reassuring and caring ways really meant something.
It's not going to happen but I wish you could all meet the Senior Cat so that he could say "thank you" personally. As it is he has asked me to pass on his bemused and bewildered thanks. He can't quite believe "what nice friends (you've) got even if you don't really know them".
Who says virtual, social media friendships can't also be caring ones?
Thank you everyone!


Anonymous said...

When I started blogging I commented to my son that some of the people i was meeting I thought I would like in real life. He replied that people can hide their identity, but not their personality. Even the words we write tell others something about our personality, and as most of us tend to meet people with similar interests on the net, so we start with a common interest.

Allison said...

No, we won't ever meet but I wish we could. You and our father seem to me to be very interesting people. I think my father would have liked Senior Cat. Hearing about Senior Cat and his doings brings my father back just a bit.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's a bit like real life. Most people are pleasant but there are some who are not. Unfortunately, it is easy to be very nasty very quickly and anonymously (if you wish) with no checks and balances - and permanently, so you cannot remove it. But the internet provides so much exchange of ideas, information, and social interaction and "friendship" (even if you don't meet) which I think is a force for good.

The "good" interactions often come signed (or it would be possible to find out the writer) which suggests some responsibiilty for content.

You have different opinions and views from mine, often informed by your work and experience, and I am very interested to read them as they are from a "real person", not a journalist or "expert" or figure head with little background or knowledge (or even common sense, sometimes).

I am pleased your father is improving and that things went well when you had to contact the emergency services and the hospital. You both seem interesting people and I enjoy reading about your lives.