I was most looking forward to David Baddiel’s (of 90s telly prog Fantasy Football, The England Men’s football anthem 3 lions, comedy stand up and Twitter power user fame) BBC2 documentary ‘Social Media, Anger and Us’ last night (13 December). It did not disappoint.
I think it’s an interesting watch for users of any socials. It did discuss TikTok (which I know nowt about), Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I was most interested in the Twitter aspect, as was our host as a self-confessed Twitter addict. Clearly, the title gives away that this programme was mostly looking at the rage aspect of Twitter, which it did, hauntingly. Fellow comedian Phil Wang told Baddiel of his real fear after receiving online abuse for a real-life joke made on telly. He said, (I paraphrase), “it doesn’t matter if someone carries out in real life the threat they made online, as the fear is real”. Powerful stuff.
The programme also mentioned some of the brands who have ditched social media, smelly retailer Lush, being one of the most recent ones, (and interestingly their departure came immediately after an online backlash). Is the decision driven by profit or ethics? And will they (brands) lose out on sales by not having a social media presence? Only time will tell.
I don’t want to give spoilers. I want social media users, and those managing SM for brands/businesses to watch it, BUT I have to say it ends on a positive and a shout out to all the quiet people on social media. Hear hear, louder at the back for the lurkers who don’t rise to the bait on social media and/or create the noisy chaotic threatening hate. And predictably (still desperately trying not to give spoilers) SOME people did exactly what Baddiel predicted they would do on SM both last night and today. The internet never forgets (and seldom forgives).
The flip side
To demonstrate that it’s not all bad on the Twitter I give you this fantastic storytelling from within the NHS. As I said, on the day I saw the tweets ‘Some brilliant tweeting here from Bolton A&E. It’s got to help getting the message out about what is and isn’t an emergency and how stretched they are.’
This live-tweeting happened on 1st December, yet it feels like a world away. 1st December was pre-Omicron, pre-plan B, pre another Xmas of precarious mixed messages. Yonks ago! I said at the time that this live-tweet storytelling was much needed. Heck, it’s even more needed now. It was a brilliant use of Twitter, and I was geekily interested to read the story behind it via this piece from those very people behind it.
Twitter CAN be a positive place.
A lot has been said, not just in this programme, about the fact that the law and our behaviour aren’t moving as fast as, or fast enough to cope with our social media use. Indeed. No one knows what will happen in terms of social media use, new sm platforms, the law and our behaviour, (not even George Orwell – I’ve just read 1984 and by cripes, it was spooky to read it at this very strange moment in time). BUT, the status quo in terms of anger and real-life consequences of online hate needs to change.