Monday, November 11, 2013

Social Networking and us.

I've just read an interesting article in the Guardian that says that Facebook is noticing a growing trend for teenagers not checking their Facebook profiles as often as they once did. They put it down to older people like their parents getting in on the Facebook action and making it both 'uncool' and harder to say and post what they really want to. They think that kids are moving away from Facebook and onto messenger apps like Whatsapp.  In the comments for this article, a couple of people said they thought twitter was going the same way.

I don't disagree with their findings... i'm sure teenagers are migrating to other more private forms of networking, but i think it's more than just teenagers. I bailed out of the Facebook charade two years ago. It just got to the point where people who i really didn't know were sending me friend requests and all my wall consisted of was people i often didn't know too well boasting about what they were doing or posting pictures of their dinner/cocktail/pet/car. I realised that i had come to rely on a daily dose of Facebook to see what was going on in the World, but what i was seeing was not at all based in reality and was mostly bollocks. I closed my account and haven't missed Facebook at all.

I do twitter... but i don't go mad... i don't tweet loads and i try not to be an annoying twitter user. If anyone i follow starts tweeting more than 10 tweets in a day and it's not incredibly important or interesting, i unfollow. If anyone starts trying to sell me something or persuade me to donate to a kickstarter campaign, i let it go for a few tweets, but when it starts to clutter up my feed...unfollow.

I also use Google+... but generally only to let people know i have new blog post up...and i generally only follow film industry people on there so it's good for keeping an eye on what other film makers are up to. It's also great for using Google Hangouts for video calls.

Anyway, back to what i was saying...  I don't believe it's just teenagers who are reducing their Facebook time and in a lot of cases, closing their accounts. It's everyone. There just comes a time when you realise that every single corporate identity has a Facebook page...Government departments have them, your boss probably has does your Mum...and your kids...and your neighbours..  That's a good point. What do you do if your neighbour (who you have known for some years and say 'hello' to on a daily basis) tries to add you on Facebook? If you ignore them, that's going to be appear rude as if you're being aloof or unfriendly, but if you add them, they will see your photos, your parties you didn't invite them too...who your friends are... it's fucking endless and can only lead to shit landing on your doorstep one day.

It's also about growing up i think. Selfies (photos you take of yourself with your phone, usually) are all very cool and fun at first, but when you get to your thirties and you're still doing it... you better have a word with yourself. I'm not saying you should never do them. Everyone needs a twitter avatar or a profile pic doing for a new web account...and a selfie is quick and easy and does the job. That's ok. But when you post a selfie on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed...showing off your new haircut/t-shirt/stupid expression/moustache/beard, it just looks like you're saying 'Check me out... look how cool and interesting i am'... when in reality, most of us look at it and think 'What a twat'.  I've thought of some more exceptions when selfies are acceptable - You get to see a big landmark...Eiffel Tower, Empire State etc... you and the said landmark in the shot - fine. You meet a celeb... fine (that's not exactly a selfie cos it's not just yourself).  You get an interesting or news worthy injury...broken nose, black eye, knocked out tooth.... ok, we probably want to see that. But that's it. All others are narcissistic and unnecessary.

Lastly, how has the social networking thing affected film makers? Well, it's made minor celebs of some people like Phil Bloom and to a lesser extent, Nino Leitner. Phil was blogging about DOF adapters one minute and was an internet sensation the next with his early Canon 5D mk2 shorts. Now he's busy milking the workshop circuit and is probably one of the best known DPs on the indie film circuit online, even though his CV isn't really very indie film oriented. He's a doc maker and DP who's dabbled in drama. There's hundreds of much more experienced DPs working in indie films who will never achieve the notoriety that Phil has... right place, right time and to be fair, he puts quite a lot back into the industry at grass roots level with his camera reviews and honest opinions.  So what else has the social network done for film makers? Its made it easier for us to talk to each other. I correspond with other film makers that i've never met. We swap information and help each other out. That's quite cool. What else? Well, we all try to connect to our audience via twitter and Facebook. Does it work? Not really... we can sometimes reach some of them, but if you think that a few thousand twitter followers is going to make you the next Quentin Tarantino, you're wrong. It certainly doesn't hurt, but online alone is not enough to rely on.

So do i disapprove of social networking? Nope...not at all. I just think we're still very much at the start of it all. Myspace was huge... it kicked things off. Then Facebook stole it's thunder and pretty much took over the entire civilised world... but it's not going to be here forever. It's already on the slide and we're only in it's 5th year since it's creation? That's less time than some boybands last. Hardly a big player when it comes to longevity.  Can you believe the first iPad only came out in 2010? What the hell are we going to be surfing the net on in five year's time? All of this is just a huge state of flux... I think we just need to learn from it as we go along.

Lessons we've learnt so far:

  • Putting up pictures of very drunk escapades can come back and haunt you.
  • Ex's will find you and you can find them. Nothing good can come of it.
  • What you think is ok to post online now, will not seem so clever in 5 years time.
  • Too much personal info online leaves you open to ID theft.
  • Advertisers will target ads at you... if you go looking at pages you shouldn't don't be surprised if you get emails you probably don't want.
  • Friending ex-friends will eventually lead to you remembering why they weren't your friends anymore.
  • Real friends know your phone number and email address. Call people. Email them.
  • Posting pictures and 'statements' or pithy quotes online are usually you trying to impress someone, maybe consider keeping the rest of us out of it?
  • There are some grumpy bloggers about.. ;-)
There... i've said enough. Who needs a Facebook page when i can rabbit on for ages on my blog? Much more fun.


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