The internet is great isn’t it?
All that stuff out in the ether, just there at your fingertips, waiting to be plucked from the stream.
Of course there are people out there too, and you can talk to them, wherever they are, whoever they are.
The astonishing thing about social networks is the way that they’ve made us all so sociable.
Now, I know that’s stating the bleedin’ obvious, but you’d have thought that a pastime that largely involves – for a lot of people – sitting on your own, staring at a computer monitor for hours at a time, would result in a generation (one that I, in all fairness, cannot really include myself in) of pasty-faced, lonely people.
But even from the somewhat cynical perspective of a forty-something, aging hippy such as myself, it’s easy to see the social benefits of sites like Facebook and twitter.
The very fact that I am, in the space of a year, friends with a DJ on Dartmoor, a blogger in Bulgaria, and a Maple syrup producing ex-Marine in Michigan, is testament to the power of the web’s ability to bring us together.
But, just as there are some people that we don’t want to bump into in the high street, there are some others that would be best avoided in the virtual world too.
Not that they’re bad people, it’s just the way these networks, well, work.
If I’m having conversations on two or three different threads at once, I want notifying when someone comments on one.
Unfortunately, that means that I set myself up for falling into a notification trap.
The worst offender in this category is The diner. The diner will post something innocuous like; I’m having lasagne for dinner, how about you??
You know what it’s like, you’re not thinking, you’re in fb mode, you comment; Steak and kidney pie.
Too late, you realise!
A minute later you get a notification telling you that some bloke called Phil is having fish and chips.
And a minute after that, you discover that a woman named Jean in Wilmslow is partial to Moroccan couscous.
From then on, you may as well give up, as all you’re going to hear about for the next three hours is the gastronomic preferences of a random collection of folks you didn’t even know existed up until this point.
Someone’s dinner, this afternoon. Fascinating.
Friend collectors are another odd one.
Imagine that you’re in a bar, at a party, whatever, and a complete stranger comes up to you and shakes your hand.
Ok, so far, so normal. But then they don’t say anything, just spend the rest of the evening standing nearby, watching what you do and say. And occasionally clearing their throat to let you know they’re still around.
That’d be weird, yes?
So, how come it’s apparently acceptable to send someone a friend request, then stay completely silent, even when asked direct questions, yet think it perfectly normal to poke them every now and then, only to ignore any response from the pokee.
I’m sure these people just get some kick out of the fact their profile says “____ has 1,653 friends.”
I now have a rule, anyone who sends a me a request has a week to actually say something before I delete them.
Trolls are of course the worst of the lot, although they don’t fall into the same category as most other types of irritant. Because even though real life Friend Collectors seem unlikely, there are enough odd people out there to make it at least probable that they exist.
Whereas Trolls can only exist within the anonymous confines of the net.
Given that their entire raison d’etre is to antagonise as many people as possible, they’d have to be terminal masochists to engage in their online antics in the real world, as they’d spend the whole time getting the crap beaten out of them.
Some Trolls, yesterday. Little bastards.
For example, imagine this real life scenario, transposed from a post I saw on Facebook during the football Euro championship, (or whatever it’s called, can’t stand football myself) only instead of on the busy public Facebook newsfeed, imagine it’s happening in a packed pub.
Someone stands up, and to nobody in particular, says;
“I hope something like the Hillsborough disaster happens at the England game tonight.”
Ok, you can close your mouth now.
Yes, somebody actually posted that statement.
Now, can you really imagine anybody doing that outside the safe anonymity of a WI-fi connection somewhere?
And that’s without even mentioning the staggering level of fuckwittedness needed to set up a page celebrating the hilarity of children with cancer…beyond belief.
Still, we can all experience the sensation of trolling, without actually doing anything offensive, immoral, or borderline illegal.
Just start a discussion with a few Americans about
b) Arms control, or
and you’ll be accused of being a Troll, and worse, in no time at all.
Having said that, providing you’re lucky enough to start off with a core of anglophile yanks who, although sometimes having as much luck grasping sarcasm and irony as Mr Spock, “get” the Brit sense of humour, you can generally spot the real zealots before they hack your account, find out your address and rappel down your chimney, armed to the teeth, to teach you the error of your whiny liberal ways.
I’ve avoided such a fate thus far, and all my (remaining) American friends are very agreeable, but it’s been touch and go once or twice.
I personally, having come to the phenomenon of the social network rather late in the game, still find it extremely entertaining, and apart from anything else, it is responsible for me taking up blogging.
So if you’ve got any complaints, you know who to blame…
If you don’t know what you’re complaining about go here.