A Guide to: Social Networking

IF you’re reading this then, undoubtedly, you’ll be one of the 1 in 13 people in the world who have succumbed to having a Facebook account. Now there’s a hefty statistic for you to mull over and/or eventually post when you update your status – probably followed by an emoticon of some sort.

Social networking is a smokescreen to hide behind while you embellish your own social life to your band of followers, who are probably also doing the same.

But what did we do before social networking? TV’s are still a staple in every home/teenage bedroom and whilst they’re still murmuring away in the form of background noise, it’s clear we’d rather tweet about Gail Platt than actually watch her doing her job. And with a staggering 48 per cent of Americans using such sites to find out about the news, social networking is taking centre stage, leaving newspapers and television as supporting roles. 

The general assumption is that the majority of the 175 million users on Facebook, are gossip hungry teens who spend their free time trawling through their ‘friends’ list. (By which, I mean people they add who they don’t really know but like to think they do, and mosey on in this bubble where they believe everybody likes them just because they posted a status sharing ‘deep’ indie lyrics and three people liked it.)

However, 30 per cent of the Facebook user base is made up of people aged 35 and above, proving we’re all young at heart (or eager to jump on the bandwagon.)

What’s hard to fathom is this: we download and buy the latest all-singing-all dancing security software for our computers/laptops/netbooks and yet we persist in heavily detailing our personal lives on the web thus making social networking sites a funfair for identity thieves.  Never mind the birthdays, hometowns and workplaces shared, there’s oceans of other irrelevant nonsense that begs the (repeated) question – why?

More than three million Facebook users were listed in an ‘It’s Complicated’ relationship. Seriously. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a spot of profile snooping if I’ve a few minutes (hours) to spare but please. Whilst I like to know who you’re falling out with and newly befriending, I do not need to know how ‘complicated’ your relationship with Neil is. But the good news? There are more than 43 million users listed as single on Facebook. That is unless everything gets all complicated of course.

Social networking is a vicious circle; like a bull in a fighting ring, we’re lured in by a red notification bubble and don’t escape until the signs of RSI flare up and you realise you’ve hit the early hours of the next morning having achieved…nothing.

57 per cent of people admit to talking to others more online than in person and 48 per cent of 18-34 year-olds check social networking sites as soon as they wake up, with 28 per cent of these not even getting out of bed to do so.

Microblogging AKA tweeting is on the up, with Twitter giving Facebook, it’s older and wiser cousin, some tough competition receiving 300,000 new users per day and 644 tweets per second.

Worryingly, one of the top ten ‘most retweeted’ tweets was from popstar Rihanna who revealed ‘Justin Bieber just flashed his abs to me in the middle of a restaurant! Wow! He actually had a lil 6 pack! Sexy! Lol!’

I can’t work out what’s worse, Justin Bieber feeling the need to parade his abs in public or Rihanna’s overkill of the exclamation mark. Given that there are a herd of ‘Beliebers’ on Twitter, there’s really no surprise that it made the cut.

Aside from the Justin Bieber cult on Twitter, there are a select few who go on a tweet rampage telling about their marvellous date night when ironically they spent the night sat on Twitter in their jogging bottoms watching Downton Abbey. Social networking is a smokescreen to hide behind while you embellish your own social life to your band of followers who are probably also doing the same – after all, who wants to hear if you’ve just clipped your toenails. Enough said.

And so for the verdict. If you wish to remain a sane social networker, take note of the following:

– Re-read all potential status updates, removing all traces of moping.

– None of that lyrics for likes business, it’s tedious and you may be subjected to being removed from someone’s news feed.

– Type with your brain not with your emotions; nobody wants to see four sad faces amidst your plea for attention. Less is definitely more.

– No updating from the realms of your bedroom, it’s for sleeping not tweeting.

Unfollow those who’ve filled your timeline bleating on how they’ve lost a follower, in the same breath no moaning when you’ve been unfollowed. And if I’m secretly gutted I’ve just lost a
follower? Well – we’re all just as guilty.

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About Laura Scott

I'm a 22 year old copywriter working for an ecommerce website based in Manchester.

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