I feel I was lucky enough to go through rise of social media and experience many positives along the way. As a white educated male I’ve not had to endure any of the negatives that so many do. When I step away and think that experience can’t be shared by the 50% of the population because they’re female, there’s some something not right here. For people coming into social media in the last three to four years, it must have been a hell of a ride, and I don’t think they would have got any of the same opportunities that I got. When the networks weren’t so full of noise, when they weren’t so full of corporate ambition they really could connect and reconnect people.
I spent a year in Sweden on a student exchange and had lost contact with most of my friends there, but through Facebook was able to reconnect with many of them and watch their lives over the last decade or so. I was able to bridge the tyranny of distance and language and complicated technology to stay in touch. I knew I couldn’t be part of their lives, but there is something to be said about being able to keep track of what’s been happening in our lives without the luxury of proximity because I genuinely care about those friends.
Twitter was initially a way to vent and to put stuff out there. It was very much a tool of self expression. But it quickly developed into a way of connecting to other people. Twitter has became an important network that now spans the globe. It’s been built up virtually over time but opportunities have come along to meet people and connect face-to-face and there’s something magical about meeting someone you’ve known for so long online. Like running into Alan Levine in the main street in Davidson, a stroll through the Stanford grounds with Laura Gogia, a meal with the irrepressible Jim Groom or finally getting to meet Kate Bowles in California rather than somewhere closer to home. Working in this industry with my skill set was initially quite isolating. Where I am in the world tends to be far away from where their action is, let alone where I am in relation to the rest of the world. If Australia is the the arse end of world, then I’m somewhere near the arse end of that. But Twitter reduced that distance down to zero. Twitter allow me to communicate with other like minded people and to find the others as Timothy Leary said. What was refreshing was that there were out there people that thought like I did, or thought differently to me and challenged my ideas and my beliefs.
I feel bad that many people didn’t get to have those kinds of experiences. They didn’t get to see that side of social media, what they got was the shitty commercial bit, the trolling and the hate. They didn’t get to experience those kinds of connections, the kinds that can change your life.