The globally recognised icon for YES, We LIKE it! Or we LIKE you, them, dogs, cats, your joke, your feelings, what you said,what you do, how you look, who you look like, who likes you…. and the list goes on and on. If you get the thumbs up, you have a chance of becoming someone who posts something on Facebook, such as a photo or a piece of text, that goes viral. Some posts are as silly as a two bob watch, which doesn’t mean they won’t take off on the net, (in fact it is often the silly ones that do go crazy), while others can be serious and informative, dealing with current issues in the network media. Facebook is so personal, but yet so global and it can make you famous or infamous in just a matter of hours. Social media can be as cruel as it is quick and it has been necessary to try and stamp out some of its more sinister aspects such as cyber-bullying.
The other day when my son had to catch a train to Sydney, so he checked in with his friends on Facebook to see whether there were any problems with the train line, instead of checking the City Rail website. My initial reaction to this was one of disbelief and doubt, however there have been many documented cases where the ‘citizen journalist‘ has made the scoop way ahead of mainstream channels and in some cases exposed important information that may not have otherwise been seen. ‘Citizen Journalists‘ have the advantage over mainstream reporting methods in that they are usually on the scene because they live in the area, or they are working or on holidays and the biggest factor is the accessibility to mobile devices. Everyone has a mobile phone, or so it seems and they can take a photo add a caption and fly it off on Twitter in less than a minute! Tweet, Tweet… Gone!
So does my son trust his social network more than City Rail, to give him the best information about the train he wants to catch or is it just that he is an intrinsic part of that network, one of the blips that keep the whole thing alive and growing? Social media relies on contacts having contacts and those contacts making more contacts and really, if you think about it, your worth or success as a tweeter or ‘facebooker’ is measured by the number of followers you have.
This leads me to think about the sorts of lies that my mother called ‘fibies’, which I suppose were still lies but less harmful ones. If you wanted desperately to become a popular social net-worker or become a famous media activist, you may just make a couple of things up or pretend you are someone you are not. It doesn’t take much through the process of ‘Chinese Whispers’ for the story to become distorted and take out a couple of enemy submarines. What if you want to spread a rumour about a person who has done something to you which really irritated you but at the time you said nothing. To pay them back, you make up a nasty rumour and start spreading it through your shared circle of friends on facebook. The insidious thing about rumours is that once they have been spread, they usually leave an indelible mark.
“Oh look poor thing, he has been fb’d”.