Find the golden mean with social media

Social media is part of who we are in 2018 and won’t be going away anytime soon, so says former RTÉ presenter and Indian hotelier, Bibi Baskin who was a reluctant convert
Find the golden mean with social media

STRIKING THE RIGHT BALANCE: There are pros and cons to using social media. Picture: Stock

MY social media journey started with Twitter and I was a recalcitrant convert. The ‘conversion’ happened less than three years ago and it was due to the persistence of a leading Irish social media expert, Greg Canty from Fuzion PR who happened to be a good friend.

I had all the usual arguments against it. If you’re that person I used to be then you can read my mind.

‘That stuff is only for young ones.’ ]

Wrong. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the over 55s.

‘I have no need for this nonsense.’

Wrong. Almost every piece of work that I have got has come to me through my active presence on Twitter, including a start up SME, #Tweet4Cork, whereby I manage Twitter accounts for businesses.

‘There is too much negativity on these platforms.’

Not in my experience. There was one woman who blasted me when I said publicly that I would love to do more radio work. “She’s had her day,” the lady wrote. I replied that if I took that approach to the many facets of a happy life I would be miserable. I haven’t heard from her since.

I have since branched out to other popular platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. I find Facebook to be much more social in content and I’m a tad reclusive so it doesn’t have huge appeal. I have also concluded, quite frankly, that the private Messenger section on Facebook is a kind of glorified Tinder. Guys make an approach … and the rest is predictable!

Instagram is a fine platform that is particularly good for visuals and is also quick and easy to use. Even my cat, Mr Aon Chluas, has an account!

Social media is part of who we are in 2018 and it won’t be going away anytime soon.

Bibi Baskin former RTÉ presenter and Indian hotelier.
Bibi Baskin former RTÉ presenter and Indian hotelier.

It is unthinkable that you could run a successful business and not have a presence on Twitter. And yet of the 45,000 companies in Cork a surprisingly small percentage see its value. This has to change.

But for all the positivesm there is also a darker side. As I learned in India, ‘every coin has two sides’. There has been a good deal of coverage in the general media recently about the downside.

The questions posed are if this is an area of potential addiction and the general consensus in the medical field is that it may indeed be the most recent new ‘thing’.

Alarmingly, a statistic was released earlier this month which said that the average young person, when left to their own devices literally, checks their mobile phone a staggering 2,600 times a day. It seems hugely exaggerated but, broken down, that works out at just under three times a minute in 16 hours of a waking day.

You’ve seen it happen and so have I. For many to be separated from a mobile phone is almost akin to losing a limb. This immediately suggests dependency. For young folk which have mobiles in their hands from the toddler stage it begs the question of how they will develop interpersonal skills as adults.

And then there is the common practice of very young teenagers sexting. Ireland has been found to have the fourth highest sexting rate in the EU with surveys showing that over 25% of 14 to 17 years old engage in sending graphic images and text. Isn’t it time for schools to meet this new development head on and develop a proper educational structure to tackle it?

The fast-paced Internet which is increasingly speeding up has also affected our concentration span. It is estimated that we come in at about eight seconds which means we are faster than the goldfish who is believed to have a nine-second attention span. The first major shift in this preceded the regular use of the Internet. In my own experience it started with the invention of the remote control for television. Some readers of my own vintage will remember when Ireland was two-channel TV land. What you may not know is that our interviews were longer then unless late at night. Viewers were just too lazy to walk up to the set and change the channel. Now that’s history.

Along with the short attention span the Internet and social media in particular is creating a shorter memory. We are suffering from information overload and our brains are not equipped to retain every detail it scans.

There is a great deal of study still to be done on the long-term effects of these developments. In the meantime a reliable solution is to monitor the amount of time you spend on your gadget. The results will still shock.

But also remember what Aristotle said around 400BC, that the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, the one being excess and its opposite deficiency. You know the direction you need to take.

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