Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Pollyanna's Web

Much has been made in recent years of the onward march of technology, and a concept frequently pushed is that social media tramples on our happiness as it surges forward to make money from our personal data.

I understand that it is difficult to navigate this, and I feel that we are frequently unfairly judged for things that are not our fault.

Unfortunately for us, Cambridge Analytica don't give a fuck if you're smiling, they just want to correctly identify your prejudices to nail you firmly to your own convictions and crucify you next to the criminals you've told everyone you'll be voting for via the medium of a quiz on your pet's favorite brand of dog food as dictated by your star sign.

See? It's far too easy to sneer. You might well be wondering who the hell I think I am, talking to you like this, but we are on the same side.

Because it's all too easy to believe it, isn't it? To buy into this wholesale misery bullshit that they ram down our throats in the hope of turning us into the most profitable sadness foie gras. You risk forgetting that social media is a tool. And so is John Lydon, so I'll sidestep the "anger is a gift," schtick, as cathartic expressions of anger are generally considered to do more harm than good.

Thing is, WhatsApp and Facebook can be useful tools for checking in on friends while maintaining a respectful distance when they are going through a hard time. I found out months after the fact that sharing football jokes and memes with my uncle via WhatsApp had helped him carry on when his wife left him. Of course, I'm not so naïve as to suggest that was the entirety of it. A loving, supportive family rallied round and helped, just we did so in different ways.

I attended a music festival this year where my group of friends created a WhatsApp group for those of us with anxiety issues, offering support if anyone needed a break or a chat. Not the perfect solution, but very useful, and something that would have been difficult to achieve as little as ten years ago.

So don't just rely on the snide naysayers. You can make someone's day, and it is much easier than you think. Try it. Be kind to yourself.

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