I’ve been always a bit afraid of social media, in much the same way that I’m a bit wary of that guy in the corner who seems friendly but babbles incessantly, and seems to be talking partly in tongues. Some people I know seem to like him but then some people I know also like Craig David, so perhaps aren’t the best at value judgements.

I’m no luddite, mind; I can fire off touch typed emails like there’s no tomorrow, I’m up to speed with texting. I’ve managed to sync various Mac functions. Hey, I even write blogs. But I’ve always steered clear of Facebook, in much the same way as I’ve instinctively refused offers of crystal meth, or any other energy draining narcotic. Even the ‘blog lite’ world of Twitter intimidated with it’s insider language, and odd symbols. Perhaps I was just too old, or busy.

What changed my mind was first of all necessity – I needed to find a way of communicating and forging new working relationships – but also opportunity, in that I had the chance to be introduced to social media by a real, analogue person.

Thankfully this introduction – with the lovely Genny from ISO, three weeks ago – took place in an environment where i could ask questions without sounding stupid. For example, how do I get going with Twitter? I signed up easy enough weeks before, but without any followers I felt like I was eating my packed lunch on my own in the corner, only online. Having a mentor helped enormously because technical problems, and potentially awkward issues of etiquette, could be dealt with quickly, and so never became blown out of proportion.

In fact, minor issues of language aside, I was pleased to discover that Twitter seems very similar to texting, or emails, but with infinitely more scope and flexibility. Using Tweetdeck, a free download, to filter information was actually the key to ‘getting’ Twitter, at least for me. Suddenly umteen streams of consciousness became more regulated, and I quickly fell into conversations on a number of levels, with old and new friends. The language, and etiquette, of Twitter makes a kind of sense, and within the structure many different levels of use and value seem to be supported.

I’m still new to all this, and plan to update my thoughts on social media as the Shadow Screen project progresses. I actually feel very positive about using social media, particularly Twitter and blogs, and I can see them becoming an enduring part of my business and personal life. Facebook, though, still confirms some of my worst fears. As a means of sharing photos, or a plan for meeting up, it works. As a time sucking vortex of trivia, it excels. Having clicked all offers of friendship from people I know, I am now the privileged recipient of a friend’s wife’s updates on how much she’s looking forward to dinner. Every day. Somehow I need to filter it, make it relevant, but I seem to be bound by the real world social etiquette that make me shy away from conflict, and pretend I hadn’t noticed.

I am British, after all.

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