Anti Social Media

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Social Media, it’s a fascination that plays such a vital role in the majority of our lives these days. Be it Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, MySpace (yes, remember MySpace), Vine, Instagram or so on, our desire to see what is going on, have our say and find out who is doing what has never been more so. Myself, well I’m on Twitter and Facebook and have been for some time, but over the years and most recently, Twitter has really started to piss me off. I tend to be on Twitter a lot more than Facebook, as the latter is usually filled with pictures of someone’s kids or someone saying they are unwell, but Twitter has changed, it hasn’t evolved, it’s just changed. For some reason Twitter is now a platform for wannabe bad asses, it has developed into a slanging war which often crosses a line which I just don’t want to read anymore. I’m all for a laugh and a joke, but these internet trouble-causers take it too far and I find this angering me on a regular basis. Without sounding like a complete moaning bastard I just want to get my view points across from the way I’ve seen certain social media change in such a short space of time. It’s disturbing, confusing and frustrating. There is a certain genre of person who now uses the likes of Twitter and Facebook who goes looking for a reaction and I’ve noticed this thirst for attention grow rapidly within the last six or so months. It’s been doing my head in to be perfectly honest and rather than sit on Twitter and ending up constantly arguing and blocking people, I thought I’d put my thoughts down in a blog instead.

By writing this piece I am giving these so-called trolls attention, and I myself have not directly received anything particularly bad from people online, but it is what is shared or retweeted in my face that I have found difficult to read or see at times and a lot of it has left me speechless. This is my views on what I’ve seen unfold before me on Twitter and although there is times when I’m humoured, humbled and entertained by some of the stuff on there, it has now become a place where I also expect to read and see a lot of bad things and unfortunately this happens on a regular basis. I notice a lot of conversations often become arguments and conflicts and it appears to me that there is a new culture of internet warriors who have set out to make themselves online nuisances. Yes there is a lot of funny stuff on there, and not all of it is in bad taste, but nowadays there’s too many people who seek out the vulnerable, the not-so-clued up, certain types of people and cultures and make it their mission to victimise them at all costs.

I’m still a relatively young lad, brought up in Liverpool and I’d like to think I’ve seen and heard my fair share of things during my 28 years in this City and on this Planet. But some of the shit I see online these days actually leaves me dumbfounded; the other week on Twitter there was certain images doing the rounds, I won’t go into detail but these images ended up being shared on my timeline as many Twitter users flew into a rage about what they had seen. I have since not been back on Twitter because I struggled to get these images out of my head. It was fucking horrible. Now these images are just the latest in a long list of disgusting and disturbing things I’ve seen and read on Twitter and one conclusion you could make is that it probably represents the world we now live in. Fame at all costs, everyone attempting to ‘out sick’ one and other, various types of bullying, everyone accessible to each other – the modern-day social media frenzy does contain good things, but there is no denying that there is now a very dark side to it and it has almost become fashionable to be controversial and abusive to certain sections of society.

I remember starting out on Twitter around 2009, and being an Evertonian I remember the early days when there was just a handful of football supporters using this source of social media. Since then it has obviously blown up and every man and his dog has an @ before their name these days, but since then it has become a playground for hate, for disagreement and vitriol. Admittedly not all of Twitter is bad, but even amongst our fan base I’ve seen a growing theme of ganging up, little clicks, and piss taking that has got out of hand. You literally can’t put anything personal online, like pictures for example, because before you know it some little 15-year-old divvy has photo shopped yours or your kids heads on something ridiculous and it’s been retweeted 900 times. Just for a laugh like. I probably sound like a bore and don’t get me wrong I like a bit of a debate (or taking the mickey) on Twitter myself from time to time, but it’s a laugh usually or a healthy debate rather than a ripping contest that eventually results in blocks, reports and threats. There’s even been occasions with people grabbing someone’s location off their Tweets and travelling down to arrange fights. For what like? Just because someone said Osman is boss and you think he’s shite. Forgive me for mentioning Everton fans in this but you are the ones I follow on my account and being an Evertonian myself it frustrates the life out of me seeing some of my fellow Blues act like complete helmets all over the internet. We should leave that type of behaviour to the small-minded, self obsessed supporters who follow the likes of…. Liverpool. Just kidding loveable reds. In fact no I’m not.

At times I cringe at the behaviour of some Evertonians, football fans and the Twitter community as a whole. Everyone wants an argument, they either agree with you or want an argument. There appears to be no middle ground with people on Twitter, you either find yourself being slated for an opinion or being praised for you’re wisdom! Never agree to disagree, no never do that. Maybe the odd threat or the odd swear word, but never agree to disagree. I could probably write a book on Evertonians, but I have to admit our fans’ behaviour on social media is quite mild in context to some of the things you see and read these days.

What gets me is the thirst, the hunger, the scramble, the need for fame. Even if it’s a retweet or favourite, it’s popularity to some who sit there thinking up their next one-liner just to gain a few more followers. The slating, the bullying and the ‘getting the upper hand’ just to be noticed, just to try to come across as funny. To me it’s a fame-hungry, uneducated, deadbeat culture that has engulfed a social media tool that was once a pretty peaceful place, designed for healthy discussion and general interest. Now everyone wants to ‘out banter’ each other, victimise and be outrageous just to get their username up in lights. Let’s be racist, fascist, controversial, let’s bring up sensitive topics, let’s believe we are dead crazy just to get a reaction. For me Twitter has no place for all of this shite and maybe I sound old before my time but I’ll certainly be shying away from it more and more in the future. Anyone reading this could simply say ‘well don’t go on Twitter then’ and I will certainly will be using it less because of the reasons stated above. I suppose yes I could just completely turn my back on it, but why should I when it has benefitted me so much over the years. I’ve built contacts, found people, learned plenty of things, interacted, sold things, bought things, helped people, sought advice, given advice, shared experiences and read and seen an awful lot of interesting things, but it’s always a minority of twats who bring something down and this is what I have found with Twitter in recent times.

If you think of any topic and type it in on Twitter you can read thousands of Tweets from around the World and read millions of opinions all in one place. This is something that is great, but unfortunately the ever-increasing number of online trouble causing (usually a young lad sitting in his room, struggling to impress the birds so takes to abusing people on the internet) are the ones who get noticed and its a pain in the arse. Without naming specific subjects or events from the past if you randomly pick something where there has been loss of life or injury to people, then type it in on Twitter and 9 times out of 10 you will eventually end up reading a whole load of sick shit that has been Tweeted from across the world about this particular subject. So it’s not just Evertonians annoying me from time to time by falling out and having handbags, the problem is on a much grander scale; it’s international, it goes beyond the UK and USA, Twitter is accessible to all and although the authorities are attempting to clamp down on online behaviour the tool is simply too big to police. So what happens, we end up policing it ourselves. We end up blocking people and reporting them and end up wasting half our time ruling out all of the shite before we can focus on the normal, decent people who just want to have their say and join in the conversation. I’m all for freedom of speech and Twitter is great for it, but this goes beyond that, a lot of it is deep, sick, deranged and very unhealthy to read, which brings me to my next point.

Maybe because I’m now a Dad my views have changed on all of the above but do you know what the most worrying thing is? Kids can see everything on Twitter too. Most people’s profiles are open and you can read Tweets by simply searching for that particular user. Kids these days use social media at a very young age and my fear is what seeing all of this online bile is doing to their heads. Do they think it is normal? I hope they don’t. Ultimately it is a parents decision when and how their child uses social media but obviously it is tough to control. Kids will always find a way to use social media and the worrying thing as a parent is that these kids then become more accessible to all. Don’t get me started on those twats that try to chat up youngsters online, and those that do more than chat up too. That stuff makes me feel ill but in reality Twitter has become just another tool for those horrors to use for their own wrongdoings. For me the bad has now well and truly outweighed the good on Twitter and from once being a refreshing, useful source of interacting with people, we are now faced with an abusive culture of self-obsessed, fame-mad whoppers who want their five minutes in the spotlight. Now we’ve got child abusers, terrorists and gangs all using Twitter for their own horrible reasons and an ever-increasing need to try to go one better than the next person. Videos have got out of hand and pictures pop up before you’ve even clicked on them so you don’t even get a choice as to whether you want to view the content or not.

Twitter has become a bit of a free for all and in my own ways I’ve tried to whittle down my followers by being selective in my choices. But still the rats creep in, those who rile everyone and end up causing chaos within five minutes. If we could wash them out it would be great, but I’m not hopeful and as I say I’ll pick and choose how I use Twitter from here on in. Maybe I’m just a simple person with simple pleasures who might come across a bit boring and a bit of a kill-joy, or maybe I just don’t act like a complete arsehole and try to belittle and abuse every person I come in to contact with, causing widespread disparity and disharmony. I wasn’t bullied at school and I certainly wouldn’t be bullied on Twitter, but not everyone can say this and my concern for people on Twitter, especially kids, has grown a lot recently. If I have felt compelled enough to write about what I’ve witnessed in certain areas of social media then surely this is a warning sign for the youngsters of today who are exposed to this sort of behaviour just as much as the next person. Another aspect is the affect and influence it has in an abusive way. When I hear about people feeling suicidal or committing suicide because of the abuse, threats and bullying they’ve received on social media it makes my blood boil. It simply should never happen and to those who are the cause of it, you should have a little think before the next time you Tweet, but you probably won’t because you are usually a brainless moron with not a care in the world for anyone or anything beyond your phone or computer screen.

In this piece I’ve felt obliged to have my say and I do apologise for the strong language I’ve used. But it’s my frank and honest opinion of social media in 2014 and how I’ve seen it change in such a short space of time. If I had only recently joined Twitter then maybe my views would be slightly different, but seeing it from what it was then to what it is now, it proves that with anything in life, if it is popular, it will always be ruined by the stupidity and behaviour of an imbecile minority.

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