I don’t exist on social media. In fact, there’s only a tiny trace of me on the interweb.
However, there’s a lot of my writing “in character” as Christopher England.
I made a conscious choice, whenever it was, to not be ‘me’. So, the highs and lows of my real life, tales of what I do, and the reality around me are masked by the pretend me. Some of the real me comes through, in the same way that Alan Partridge and Keith Lemon have some of the real people ‘playing’ them coming through. However, my private life is just that, private.
Strangely, and separately, my lovely partner in real life also made the decision to not exist on the internet or in social media, before she met me. This despite all her friends, brothers, sister, and parents being on it. She ‘hides’ behind other accounts and just ‘watches’ from time to time. Oh and, none of them know of Christopher England, let alone that he is me. The same ignorance blesses all but one of my work colleagues.
Usually one would expect that only those who aren’t capable of using a computer (technophobia or age, etc) would also not have a ‘presence’ on social media. Yet, we are far from technophobes. We just don’t want the real ‘us’ to be ‘out there’. It doesn’t fit into who we are.
In extreme contrast, nearly everybody else seems to be using social media without any guard up. As a ‘watcher’ I can read through a timeline on Facebook and know all there is to know, usually very intimately about another person’s life. And with the fad of declaring where one is via ‘check-ins’, ‘liking’ their favourite products, shows and places, instantly publishing pictures of their latest child, cat, dog, drunken night out, or plate of food they are about to eat, along with streaming a comprehensive list of everything they are listening to or watching, I can ‘virtually’ stalk them completely without going anywhere near them physically.
Surely this is not healthy? It’s also a phenomenon we have never had to deal with before in human history, so it will change us and how we relate to each other, including employment opportunities. It will ‘colour’ things. It can’t not.
In my own company, part of the contract everybody, including the casuals, signs is an agreement that the company will not be mentioned by them on social media. They are not allowed to include the company in the ‘Employer’ section of Facebook or LinkedIn, etc. The ‘ban’ is included on the induction course and it takes a fair amount of time to roll out to the newbies an explanation that they understand.
This caused problems for a few of the new young-uns, who already had no idea of personal privacy. So, unofficially, they were encouraged to lie about the company they work for, and were definitely not allowed to report on anything the company was doing that might identify it or co-workers.
Other companies are less strict, allowing you to identify who you work for, but not allow you to discuss your colleagues or what exactly your day at work was like. Even Tescos does this.
And, they employ bots to keep scraping around to see if anybody is not complying. They will sack those who don’t comply, terrified of social media causing ‘brand damage’.
I’m wondering if the future will be one where people step back a bit from spewing their life, warts ‘n’ all, forth for anybody to read, including prospective employers. So many use Facebook as just a part of their real life, continuing any private conversation they were having in real life, onward in the ‘public’ domain of social media visible to anybody else who knows them. All too often this becomes an integral part of the back-story for the mad looking person being shown to be a waste of oxygen on the Jeremy Kyle Show. Their excuse for shagging someone is usually down to what they saw written on Facebook.
Or maybe I’m just being old fashioned. Maybe the future is to use social media to become just one huge Truman Show, with privacy banned and every single moment capable of being watched in detail by anybody via a ‘Big Brother’ of our own making.
Strangely, those who scream loudest against ‘Big Brother’ are usually the ones happily feeding the surveillance of themselves via their own input to social media. They don’t get it, do they?