Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Tag

A Gossip Over The Digital Fence

garden fenceThere have been quite a few commentators and columnists writing about the growth and negative impact of internet based social networks. Myspace, Facebook and Twitter being a common target. The criticisms are many and varied with the use of these services by politicians being a particular focus.

There is one area that these observations have yet to explore is how the very local network structure of the past is made irrelevant by the nature of the internet. My own Twitter group covers the whole world and comprises people I have only ever conversed with by short text messages. Out of over 400 less than 10 know each other personally.

What we share are common interests in growing our own food and cooking, together with a very comical view of every aspect of our individual lives. Its the same sharing that used to take place over the garden fence and down the allotment shed. It has not replaced my local network of family and friend, but extended it to every continent in the world.

Facebook Faceoff

Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln college, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution told the House of Lords that children’s experiences on social networking sites

“are devoid of cohesive narrative and long-term significance. As a consequence, the mid-21st century mind might almost be infantilised, characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity”.

Now, for those who do manage to untangle the meaning of what she said and are Facebook users like myself (plus Twitter and Blogger) will wonder what the problem is. With friends in Belgium, grandchildren down-under and an appreciation of the wonders of Marmite, Facebook is an easy way to keep in-touch, share photos and chat. It’s quick, easy, free and can be used almost anywhere.

As for the kids, they have always developed ways of communicating that leave adults at a disadvantag, that’s the whole purpose they don’t want us to hear what they are saying. We used slang our parents did not understand, the same is true of our kids today. They may speak English to you, but not English as we know it (sorry for ending a sentence with ‘it’).

Shortening attention spans was a problem before Facebook. Lack of empathy, no way, just see what happens when a kid gets killed. Their friends take to the streets. And the last thing they have is a lack of identity. Look at how they dress to follow fashion, they are all trying to fit in by fulfilling the identity they think everyone else will think is cool and up-to-date.

Lady Greenfield should spend her time researching things that are more pressing and of more self interest such as dementia.