Posts Tagged 'Facebook'

Why They Shouldn’t Close Down Social Media During Riots

At 6.30 pm this-evening, there will be a debate about David Cameron’s plan to turn off all social media sites during times of riot.  Yes, this measure may prevent people conspiring and communicating; arranging meeting places, and drumming up hysteria, which is a very important factor, but there are two very big reasons that I personally think social media should stay open for business at all times.

 

1.  EVIDENCE

After the event, there can surely be few more effective ways of catching hold of the perpetrators of crimes than having cold, hard evidence published on the internet.  A tweet saying; ‘Let’s meet at 4.00pm and throw a firework through Topshop’s window’, or a photograph on Facebook of a grinning hoodie, proudly brandishing his new trainers for all to see,  and the inevitable boastful comments that would accompany it, would undoubtedly be invaluable in securing enough evidence for conviction.  During the riots of the last few days, I heard Caitlin Moran describe this very idea as ‘Giving them enough rope to hang themselves’.

We will never compete with their vanity and short-sightedness, and all we need do is sit back and allow them to incriminate themselves.

 

2.  POSITIVE COMMUNICATION

Only those people who relied on Twitter throughout the riots this week will appreciate the inadequacies and shortcomings of the televised news services.  While Sky News and the BBC were playing down events, trying to pretend it wasn’t happening, and then when they eventually had to acknowledge it, showing hours-old footage, repeating the same limited cannon of clips, and creating a very limited perspective for viewers relying solely on television, some of us were on Twitter.  One only had to click on the hashtag #londonriots, and you were immediately inside the action.  People were tweeting from the streets, in the middle of what was going on, people were tweeting about what was going to happen before it did, so that the news spread across the internet, able to forewarn, and preclude.  Photographs were coming from journalists, live onto the Twitter newsfeed, reliable sources were sharing the experience with the world, ordinary people were able to ask for help, express their fear, and sadness, and unite.  It isn’t an exaggeration to say that on Twitter for those few nights the wartime spirit of the 1940’s was very much alive.  Matters were discussed, shared, and wholly illuminated and verified without bias.  There was no agenda to the information, and the sources provided photographs.  On the first night, before I’d even heard anything about it on the news, I lay in bed, glued to my Blackberry, until five in the morning, and I felt so immersed in the action, so much part of the London unity, that my own life and surroundings felt distant, and surreal.

I can never fully express just how important those few nights of shared communication were, to the people who needed help, and to feel part of a community.  To the people who were inside their homes, terrified, but comforted by the entire world, talking to them on Twitter, or those of us who were far away from London, and wanted to feel in-the-loop.  No amount of televised news coverage could have competed with the information shared on Twitter during the riots, and even in organising the clean-up process.  I hope the politicians make this a consideration in their decision.

Yes, people may have used the social media to organise, but an equal number of people were warned about where the violence was spreading, and were able to move away from the area, or pre-empt it.  I think, in this case, more good would be lost, by losing that valuable facility for communication, than harm prevented by stopping the conspirational organising.

 

 

The Stigma of Saying ‘I’m Lonely.’

One of the few things, and there aren’t many, that I’m too scared to say on Facebook or Twitter is that I feel lonely, and that’s because I’m worried people will think I’m weird. In truth, they probably would. Saying you’re lonely implies that you don’t have enough people in your life. The word ‘lonely’ paints a picture of a person with no actual friends, and someone who isn’t close to their family. At least, this is how I feel I would be portraying myself if I were to confess publicly to feeling alone, but it isn’t necessarily the case.

In the modern world we tend to be surrounded by hundreds of people, but most of them are acquaintances, rather than real friends. It’s especially the case with students. We add hundreds of people to our list of ‘friends’ on Facebook, but how many of these people could we actually ring up (if we even have their phone number), and ask for help with a problem, or ask for a shoulder to cry on, even ask to come out for a drink? Last Christmas, the one just gone, I sent out a message over Facebook to about forty of my friends, asking for their address. It occurred to me, as someone who is reluctant to yield to modernity, that I see these people every day, sit next to them in lectures, go out with them for evenings of drinking and laughing, share stories and jokes with them, have real friendships, and yet I don’t know where they live. I had phone numbers for a few of them, but no postal addresses. So I sent out this message, and received a fair few answers, and so I compiled an old-fashioned address book (I bought a Filofax. I’m very happy with it), and when December came I sent out Christmas cards to all of them, just like grown-ups did in the olden days.

Our friendships, and most of our day-to-day lives, are conducted entirely over the internet, through social networking sites like Facebook. I for one feel that we’re losing the traditional relationships and friendships that we used to have. I miss the days when you had one phone number, and you would say things like ‘find me in the book’, and would have to make sure you took ten pence with you when you went out so you could ring home. In those days, friends were friends. These days, we get along with people, we see their holiday pictures and know what they had for tea, we offer advice or support when they need it, we share their ups and downs, and all the details of their life, but if I’m being honest, of the people on my Facebook list, there are only a few that I feel able to ring up and ask to come out for a drink. That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of people on that list that I’d love to ask for a drink; there are, but I feel that if I did, they’d think I was weird. It’s a new social boundary. These new friendships aren’t based on solid foundations, like the old ones. Being someone’s Facebook friend often means you met them once when out in the pub, or you know them to say ‘hello’ to from some extra-curricular club. These people aren’t prepared for you to suddenly invite them round for pizza… are they? Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe they’d be delighted and flattered, and would love to build a more personal friendship. Maybe it’s me who’s too cautious. Maybe I’m the problem.

I have less than ten really good friends. By ‘really good friends’, I mean friends that have been in my life since I was thirteen, eleven, even four in some cases. These are friends I trust, and who really know me. I have 176 friends on Facebook, some of whom I haven’t spoken to in years. They are Facebook friends, but are they actually friends? There are so many of them who I’d love to meet up with, have a drink and a laugh with, who I’d love to know better. There are girls I’d love to go shopping with, but I always feel that if I invite them, they’d wonder why the hell I was asking them to go out, when they barely know me. Maybe that’s the point. The friends I’ve know since I was eleven already know whether or not I’m funny, weird or normal, how I feel about certain things, whether I’m being serious if I take the piss out of them, they know my sense of humour. It’s a frightening thing to suddenly talk to people who don’t know those things. Often, I post a comment on someone’s facebook then panic in case they don’t realise I’m joking. What about those people who have 700, 800, 900 friends on Facebook? How many of those hundreds of people would really classify as friends?

So, where did this all start? This blog wasn’t supposed to be about Facebook, but why it isn’t acceptable in today’s society to admit to feeling lonely. It stands to reason that most of us are. If we’re single, especially if we’ve been single for a long time, and we don’t get out as often as we should, and if our friends live at other ends of the country, as most of them often do, why is it so shameful to utter the word ‘lonely’? Is it because it implies weakness? It is because we think other people will automatically assume that we’re lonely for good reason, that we’re boring, horrendous people, who deserve to be lonely because no-one could bear to be friends with us? I don’t know, actually. I wish I did. What I do know, is that it should be easier to reach out to each other. There shouldn’t be a barrier between us, like there is. We should be able to hold out a hand to anybody, anywhere, and say ‘Hi, do you fancy a drink?’. Maybe that would make us even weirder, and even lonelier, I don’t know.

Procrastination, it’s not my fault!

Why is it, why the BLOODY HELL is it, that whenever I have a lot to do, or a train to catch, or somewhere to be at 6.00 pm, I find myself continually in my pyjamas with unbrushed hair, looking at strangers’ photographs on Facebook?

It seems that the ratio of how busy you should be, and how interesting things on the internet are, are in direct correlation.  Something I would ordinarily have absolutely no interest in suddenly becomes fascinating/highly important if I have ten minutes to wash the dishes, get dressed, and be out of the door to catch the train.  It must be a mechanism in my head.  If I know I should be doing something vitally important, I’ll suddenly become enthralled with the holiday snaps of the sister of someone I spoke to once when I was at college, six years ago.  In my defence, as all of my friends, peers and school colleagues are now around twenty-five, there is a constant influx of wedding photographs, baby photographs, status updates and relationship  changes to make me insanely jealous, so that when I should be straightening my hair and putting on my lipstick, ready to go out the door, I’m seething with envy that someone from school has just had their third child and got engaged.  It isn’t fair.  The internet, and particularly social networking, preys on the vulnerability of the emotionally unfulfilled and the lonely.

I’m not alone in this.  One beauty of Facebook is that at three o’clock in the morning, on deadline day, when a two-thousand word assignment is due in a mere few hours and I’ve only written a one-hundred word introduction, I can take comfort by the fact that at least ten of my classmates will also be awake, will also be equally behind with the assignment, and will also be trawling Facebook, looking for distractions.


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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day


Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

Share book reviews and ratings with Vikki, and even join a book club on Goodreads.

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