For myself, as a person who grew up without social media, I must say I find the whole thing a bit odd.
Odd in the sense that last week I was sitting in my office observing a customer who was bringing some items into storage and seemingly checking messages on his phone at the same time.
It was not a very efficient way of operating in my estimation for if my customer had simply put his phone away for a few minutes and dealt with the storage he could then have gone back to his phone and dealt with the messages. But no, each time there was a buzz on the phone, he stopped, put things down, and attended to the phone.
Now what made me particularly interested was the fact that a sort of scowl passed over my customer’s face each time the phone buzzed, as if he was annoyed at the interruption. And I have noticed this with other people.
But my contention is that there is rarely any reason for anyone to look at every message that comes in, as it comes in. If something is really important, then again in my experience, a person will make an actual telephone call.
Yet phones now seem to have taken over life. I recall one occasion in which I employed a young lady in the office only to find that she worked with her phone on the desk, and messages that came in to her were dealt with ahead of the work she was being paid to do.
I tried to be reasonable and ask her not to interrupt her work in order to deal with incoming phone messages but this didn’t have any effect, and I was forced to “let her go”, as they say, after I overheard her say to a customer on the phone “hold on a moment” as she fiddled to pick up her mobile and type a reply to a message.
I was quite sure that I had just picked what we used to call “a bad ‘un” and so immediately asked the lady to leave our employment, and a few days later held interviews for a new office assistant.
At this point I realised that I was not quite seeing the world in its full modern reality when a lady I was interviewing picked up her phone during the interview to look at an incoming message.
Puzzled by all this odd behaviour I then decided to sign up to Facebook myself – not because I felt it might be beneficial to me, but rather because I wanted to learn about this monstrous outrage that was (quite clearly) destroying western civilisation – or at least western civility.
Of course, it takes a little while to get into any new form of technology, but with the help of a couple of 8 year old nephews I managed to get started and soon built up a network of friends, most of whom I didn’t know.
What struck me as I started to read, is that there are many more negative comments than positive on social media, and that people by and large find it hard to:
a) Pay genuine compliments to others (other than saying thank you occasionally for something the other person has done for the writer)
b) Talk about anything other than that which they are doing.
Facebook also seems to me to have become the repository of opinion without any evidence to back it up. A person says, “I find the shop assistants in Marks and Spencer very rude” and another replies, “I find them very helpful”, and I am left thinking, “what benefit has any of us gained by that exchange?”
Indeed, I can’t see how the two protagonists would have gained anything from the exchange if they were sitting opposite each other in a coffee bar – but to share it with all their on-line friends too… what is the point?
Over lunch I discussed this with a colleague who is of a similar mindset to myself, and, in the way that old chums do on occasion, we asked each other where all this would end.
We saw two outcomes. In one, Facebook would replace the real world, and all life and living would take place on line. In the other, Facebook would break down, be hacked or be subject to a terror attack, and everyone would be left without it.
My thought was that in this second scenario most people would then be left walking around aimlessly looking at their phones and occasionally pressing buttons in the vague hope that something might happen.
“That sounds like a film script,” said my friend. “Facebook Apocalypse”.
I think we may be on to something.