Back in the dark days of 2017, I was unenlightened enough to believe that social media was the work of the devil.
What was wrong with people, and why were they so intent on sharing their lives with strangers on the internet?
I could only imagine that some evil curse had befallen them, so I decided the best thing to do was keep my head down and try not to fall victim, until someone found a cure and the curse could be lifted.
We’re all doomed!
This proved to be easier said than done because by that time, social media was everywhere.
I had a particular dislike of Twitter, which I believed was responsible for slowly destroying the English language, 280 badly-arranged characters at a time.
Some days it was all I could think about.
Sometimes, my family would find me sat in darkened rooms, rocking back and forth, muttering about inevitable doom and the end of the world as we know it.
Luckily, they had the good sense to ignore me.
And somewhere along the way, I started to change my mind about social media. I either finally came to my senses or the curse got to me too, depending on how you look at it.
Fast-forward to 2020, and I’m pleasantly surprised to report that I couldn’t have been more wrong about social media.
I’ve been an (over)active user of Twitter since the beginning of 2018.
I expected it to be a human cesspit, where I’d frequently become embroiled in pointless arguments with keyboard warriors who have nothing better to do with their time.
But I didn’t.
False alarm – I may have overreacted
I’ve not had one single solitary argument in the two years I’ve been on Twitter. I’ve not had to block or mute anyone.
Is this because I’m a forgiving, easygoing, positive person?
It’s because social media is whatever you choose to make of it.
If you’re looking for arguments and drama, there’s plenty of it.
But if you’re looking for a supportive community of like-minded writer types to network with, like I was, that’s exactly what you’ll find.
It’s like anything else – if you walk into a pub looking for a fight, I can guarantee you’ll find one.
But if you try to avoid violence because you’re a normal sensible, well-adjusted individual, you learn who to avoid and become attuned to any situations that might have the potential to escalate into something unpleasant.
In normal life, we do this every day. It’s called self-preservation.
But it’s strange how people think that because they’re communicating in cyberspace and not in the ‘real’ world this somehow gives them the license to behave like twats.
My rule is don’t say anything to someone on social media that you wouldn’t say to their face.
This might just be the curse talking
So, what’s the lesson in all this?
Sometimes, despite all your better judgement, you have to take a leap of faith.
My leap of faith was joining Twitter, and you know what? Despite all my fears, I’m a better writer for it.
So don’t let your fears hold you back, and be willing and happy to be proved wrong from time to time.
Stepping into the unknown is the only way we can develop our craft and grow as writers.
Or, it could be that the curse has affected my brain and I’m wrong about all of this.
So I guess you’ll just have to take your chances.
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Picture Credit: Jurgen Appelo, Flickr