Thursday, 9 May 2013

Favourite Social Media Channel

Day 9 of the BEDM challenge and this time we have to talk about our favourite social media channel!

While I wouldn't say I'm completely obsessed with social media, it definitely plays a big part in my life. There are so many channels now and so many people use at least one of them - friends, family, colleagues and so on - that it's hard not to be influenced by social media in some way these days. Probably my most used of the social media channels is Facebook. Once upon a time I actually used MySpace instead, but over time it became more populated by young teenagers, bands etc and it wasn't the same any more. Not that there's anything wrong with teens or bands, but I am neither of those things and whilst I do like music, that's not all I'm into. So I went and checked out Facebook and the rest is history.
Facebook has a special place in my life because through it I have got back in touch with a lot of old friends, family members, people I used to go to school with, people who live too far away from me to visit, and so on - since I have a bit of a phobia of talking on the telephone, and have never been too good at writing letters, there are many people who I probably wouldn't have had anywhere near as good a relationship with if I hadn't been able to do it this way. I even met one of my closest friends through Facebook; she was a friend of a friend and we added each other because of that and the rest was history. Facebook has also been a lifeline for me during those times when I've had little or no social life otherwise; when I've had no money, or was too busy taking care of a newborn to leave the house, or for some other reason that got in the way of me having a life beyond just work and home. These were times when I could have been incredibly lonely, but because of Facebook I was able to stay in touch with people and feel reassured that someone still cared about my existence (and likewise I've been able to do the same for other people too). I like how you can put as much or as little effort in as you want, be that long messages on each other's statuses or walls, or just a simple 'like' of a picture or something that somebody's shared, letting them know that you've seen it and you think it's cool (man do I wish they would have a dislike button too though). I value likes as much as actual messages, it only takes a second to click 'like' but it still lets the person know you're there and you're thinking of them in some way. I use Facebook as my ranting post, soap box, a platform for sharing triumphs and successes, and a way of recording important moments in my life. I put loads of photographs on there, which means not only do my friends and family get to see them, but also I can look back through them and through old statuses and what not and feel nostalgic/proud/sentimental/amused etc over each of the things I've done and seen. It's a bit like an electronic scrapbook of my life... I have always been AWFUL at keeping diaries and journals, and organising photographs, but now that Facebook exists, it does all of that for me. If I could only pick one type of social media, it would probably be Facebook.
Lucky for me I don't have to stick to just the one though! Next up in my list of favourites is Twitter. I have to say that for the longest time I didn't really get on with Twitter. Unlike Facebook, hardly any of my 'real life' friends are on there, so when I first started I didn't really have anyone to talk to and there isn't exactly a 'find me some random people to make friends with' button either lol.  But I persevered, starting off by following celebrities and then finding people who also liked those celebrities, and then on to bloggers and other interests of mine. Once you've got a few friends you add more from amongst their friends too and it soon grows. Twitter is, for me, primarily a place I interact with the blogging community (both directly and also by clicking on bloggers' links to their latest posts), find out what's new and exciting in the world of nail polish, cosmetics and fashion, and to a lesser extent, keep tabs on what my favourite celebrities are doing. Unlike Facebook, most of my friends on Twitter are people I have never met in 'real life', but I have been able to get to know some really great people, with similar interests to me, who I probably would never have come into contact with otherwise.
A more recent addition to my list has been Instagram. I used to hear about this photographic social media thing that people had on iPhones and wonder what all the fuss was about; when they brought it out on Android phones I had to give it a try just out of interest and nosiness lol. Initially I thought it was a bit of a boring gimmick but again that was because I didn't have many people to follow at first. Once I'd followed a few people I quickly became hooked; I just love seeing those little snapshots of people's lives and sharing a few of my own too :)

That's about it for me; I know there's tons more (Google+, Foursquare, Flickr, Tumblr, YouTube and all the rest) but really I try and limit it to just these three as I don't have time to spend on keeping that many things going. I can easily lose whole evenings just on Facebook alone and I try not to let social media swallow up my entire life, which could happen quite easily if I tried to do everything! Also I try to remember that social media has a dark side. As well as the fact it can easily steal all of your spare time if you let it (time I should be spending with my family!) the internet is full of creeps and weirdos.  Sad but true, bad people have access to social media too!  Because of this I have my own personal set of social media rules that I follow at all times - most of it is common sense but I will list them here anyway as it is so important to protect yourself when online these days.

1. Use privacy settings correctly. Most of them are set by default to 'open', that is every man and his dog can see what you're doing and saying and uploading. This is fine if all you're doing is talking about how great your latest lipstick purchase is, but not so much if it's something more personal. If you're not OK with random and possibly dodgy strangers seeing that picture of you in your bikini, those settings are going to have to change.

2. Limit the amount of personal information you share, especially if you have chosen to have slightly more relaxed privacy settings that allow strangers to see your activities, or if some of your friends are actually people you don't really know. People have been burgled because they told the world exactly where they lived, then put up statuses letting the world know they were off to work and wouldn't be back for x number of hours.

3. DAMAGE LIMITATION. Watch what you say, do and upload - some things just have no place in social media, and for good reason. Even once you have your privacy settings right, you can still come unstuck and once it's out there, you can't always get it back. Sometimes people get hacked. Sometimes sites change the privacy settings without warning. Sometimes one of your so called friends turns out to be a troll or a gossip monger and before you know it you're in trouble because you said something and it was taken the wrong way, or passed on to someone you didn't want to share it with. I try always to look at what I'm doing and saying and imagine what might happen if that picture got into the wrong hands or if the wrong pair of eyes saw what I'd written. I don't like the answer, then I just don't put it on the internet!

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