Monday, 7 March 2011

It's NOT all about you.

I often struggle with the issue of narcissism online. Of course online reflects real life and some of the people I interact with are more narcissistic than others, pushing their blog into your Twitter feed and on to your Facebook page as often as a lie comes out of a politician’s mouth.

Others, write a considered, beautiful post and fellow users jump on it and do the promotion for them. These are the ones I am more inclined to read. The ones which speak for themselves. Retweeting a blog piece with a positive comment attached is tantamount to a big fat ‘Like’.

The whole genre of personal blogging (such as this) is something I would consider to be wholly narcissistic. Let me explain.

You know that girl, the drunken Londoner you met when you were in the line for the loo at that festival that time? Stacey, the one who stood there talking about herself in a brash, self-important way? The one who ‘d been travelling around Thailand for three weeks and wanted everyone to know about it?

(‘I stayed in this remote mountainous village, yah? With the Nong Pa Ko people. It was just amazing. You should go. Oh you’ve been? Yah. Right. Anyway they wanted me to stay with them and heard goats but you know how it is when you’re a traveller, yah. Those people, they’re like, so spiritual. They called me ‘Chanthira’ – Moon Girl, you know? Because I was exotic and mysterious..... FUCK! I gotta pee *bangs on toilet door* what the FUCK you DOING in there?’)

You remember her - the one you gave your mobile number to because you thought she was alright at the time, after 6 pints of pear cider? You wake the next morning in your damp tent, still dressed in your (slightly grubby) Polo Mint costume, tongue like sandpaper and think, ‘Good God, that girl was irritating’. Around the same time, you give thanks for the fact there’s no mobile reception until you leave the place, so you might just be lucky enough not to have to ever speak to her again. Ever.

Well. If that girl had a blog (she probably does, it’s called ‘www.moonchildtravels.co.uk’) and you had been foolish enough to accept her friend request (she’s the one dancing round a pole in her profile picture) she would be up in your virtual face about that damn thing, using every medium she could muster.

Admittedly, only a few users I communicate with attempt to force their blog down my throat like a sea lion with a fish.

Even micro blogging – as a concept - is terribly self absorbed. And this is what I really want to talk about. This is the real culprit, the real stage of ‘come worship at the throne of me'. And by this, I predominantly mean Twitter and Facebook ‘status updates’.

Lots of users (I can’t bring myself to say the word ‘Tweeps’ – please forgive me) don’t agree with me when I say this to them. They can’t see it – at all. They would merely say that they are exchanging information with one another.

Perhaps I am more sensitive to how my online behaviour is perceived, than others. Perhaps I am over cautious. Certainly my Twitter account is locked. My Facebook profile is impenetrable to the uninvited.

Now this 'information exchange' works both ways. These seasoned users often produce great content, tweet interesting links, news stories and use it to network in the best way. They’re useful to follow and will more often than not be the ones who organise events and ‘TweetUps’ (*cringes, stabs self in foot*) in real life.

This also means that there is a lot of scope for those who shout the loudest to be the influencers – again, akin to real life. This is not always a positive thing.

For non-users of Twitter, people tweet about everything. They proffer interesting links about current affairs, convey their strong political views, tell us about their hamster’s sticky eye, their kid’s amusing potty training incident, and what they are having for ‘noms’. I include myself in this - I mean absolutely. That’s what Twitter is for, right? A veritable smorgasboard of wackiness and information exchange.

It’s when things turn nasty, in a channel of communication such as this, that the problem occurs.

Sometimes, I read a blog post by someone I follow, and I think things, bad, dark things. Things which makes my eyes roll and induce rage. I may even tut.

I am more likely to say nothing, for fear of rocking the Social Media Boat. I don’t feel as if I can say what I honestly think in a comment at the bottom of a blog post by these Kings and Queens of the Interwebs, for fear of being ganged up on by their disciples (follower, geddit?), becoming the victim of a snarky put down, or even just looking like a fool.

I cannot be alone in this feeling. I am web savvy, I write, I take a lot of notice about what is happening in Social Media and in particular within the Sydney PR and online marketing world. I am eloquent enough – though certainly nowhere near as verbally gifted as many wonderful people I follow on Twitter. But I refuse to believe that others don't on occasion feel that they can't contradict others online for fear of alienation.

Social Media snarks so often turn into playground scuffles that I just cannot be arsed to dip my oar in the water. It’s pathetic. People get hung up about the most insignificant things. But I suppose that’s what happens when you get a bunch of people together who all love the sound of their own voices. A bit like the House of Commons. And before the protests roll in, heavy Twitter users must like self-promotion , or why would they be doing it so loudly on such an accessible and (more to the point) public platform?

Believe me, the irony of this very blog post and – on occasion – my own behaviour on Twitter – does not escape me. However, just be glad my name is not Stacey.

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