SM and silver linings

I’ve decided that, on balance, I still love social media. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have: introduced me to people who have become genuine friends, several of whom I speak to daily; brought me back into contact with former colleagues, neighbours & school friends, and indeed one of my earliest childhood friends (hi, Nick! 🙂 ); put me in touch with people who live/lived in the part of Glasgow where I grew up; allowed me to follow the work of photographers whose work uplifts & inspires me daily (I no longer carry a press card, but when I did it said ’photo journalist’, and my first published work consisted of words to link my photos rather than the other way round); let me keep in touch with history & current happenings in my native city, my favourite city, the cities where family members live, cities I have visited on holiday & come to love (I’m still a city girl at heart); provided a place to notify readers when I have a new book out; and last, but not least, given me space to vent my fury over a political system which has torn the UK out of Europe against the wishes of the majority of its inhabitants (I no longer care what the referendum indicated), plunged more & more people into poverty and lined the pockets of politicians and hangers-on at the expense of the public purse. Venting is good for the blood pressure!

Unfortunately, these social media platforms (particularly Twitter) are also home to some of the most obnoxious people I’ve encountered – those who get their kicks from abusing, harassing, bullying, stalking and threatening others they happen across. I’ve discovered, to my cost, that Twitter bullies don’t need a rational reason for their behaviour. Merely ’liking’ or commenting on someone else’s Tweet seems to be enough to trigger their vitriol and threats. Just blocking them (or reporting them, or both) sometimes isn’t enough to get rid of their attentions. Their creepy stalking activities mean that – unless you have managed to remain totally anonymous on the rest of the internet; I haven’t, due to my current and former jobs – they crop up in all sorts of places including via Royal Mail. Scary stuff.

Although I’m not easily scared, over the past year-and-a-bit I’ve often been tempted to close my social media accounts and become a digital hermit because of abuse and threats from Twitter bullies. But if I do that, and lose touch with all the things and all the people I love around social media, the bullies have won.

So I’m still there on the platforms mentioned above. My friends are much more important to me than threats from sad losers. When my eldest cat died recently, I got literally hundreds of messages of sympathy and support. That counts for infinitely more.

By Fiona Cameron

Former journalist, PR consultant and fiction writer, cat- and dog-owner, currently living in beautiful Galloway, SW of Scotland. Passionately concerned about my country's environment, animal rights and freedom of expression for all authors & artists.

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