The Weird and Wonderful World of Social Media and Blogging

I’ve only been blogging for a month or two but I’ve discovered a whole new world!

Why did I get into it when I already have a steady teaching job and plenty of other things to do? As I said in an earlier blog, I was scrolling through ‘popular’ glamorous and not so glamorous Instagram accounts. Pretty people who travel and have over 50k followers, people who post pics of macaroons in front of the Eiffel Tower, mums who post close-ups of their children wearing nice clothes.. accounts of ‘normal’ people advertising stuff. I did wonder if I should. Did I want to show pics of my son and husband? Did I want to spend hours being sycophantic with strangers on my phone ignoring real life? (and more marking) but I thought yes, I’ll give it a try…for a while.

Since then, it’s been going well – I’ve really enjoyed the writing and had loads of ideas. I’ve had two ‘guest blog’ posts and free tickets for a train ride and visit to a castle. I’ve been retweeted by some important people (this is very exciting in the social media world!) I’ve made a few blog friends virtually and face-to-face. I keep waking up early with ideas and writing blog posts (my husband is very tolerant!) I’ve booked onto a few talks and there’s even a ‘Blogon’ conference that I’m going to soon. It’s my new hobby.

I went to one of those talks last night for Cheltenham mums with the blog award winning (yes, there are blog Awards!) CheltenhamMaman who was talking to a popular ‘Insta Mum’ Kelly Terranova, ‘The Bees Knees.’ Kelly gave an inspirational talk about her life and childhood which hasn’t always been easy. She has a ‘happiness’ journal which has sold more than 4,500 copies and she has 20K followers on Instagram. Kelly said she gets around 100 direct messages (DMs) a day and tries to reply to all of them. She reminded me of a good friend of mine who is really cool, great at telling stories, wears great clothes and people often want to be like her (Hi Lara!). Now this is happening in the virtual world and people are becoming Instagram celebrities! At the end of the talk it was all quite light-hearted but I wanted to ask, ‘How do you feel about people knowing so much of your life?’ ‘How do you manage all the attention?’

Where is this all going to end up? It reminds me of a great Charlie Brooker ‘Black Mirror’ episode called Nosedive. Set in the near future: a smiley, status obsessed world, people wear contact lenses (like virtual reality headsets but they have advanced to being in your eyes) that enable them to see the ‘social rank score’ of anyone they interact with from your boss to a shop assistant. The story is about one woman’s darkly funny attempt to gain ‘likes’ so she can join an old friend as one of society’s elites.

Is this where we are headed? Is all our social media going to be grouped together so that we become one social media score? I’m currently finding out about blog ‘SEO’ and ‘Moz Rank’.. apparently brands are only interested if you have a score of over 20.. I checked mine yesterday and it’s 1 (Lol!)

Another funny modern situation is when you meet someone in real life when you have been following each other on social media. This happened yesterday at the talk I went to. It’s a bit weird as you already know something about them and vice versa. We ended up having an interesting conversation about it all. She observed that social media is mainly used by women and I agreed. I’ve noticed the comments on other Instagram accounts of women, ‘I love your handbag!’ (guilty) ‘Where did you get that lipstick from..it looks amazing!’ I posted a picture of myself once (I normally post landscapes) and it got the most comments.

It’s a massive extension of what women do in real life and it’s called cooperative overlap (I’ve taught linguistics a bit!) Women (generally much more than men) will constantly give feedback and approving noises when other women are talking to make them feel they are listening and therefore reassured. It’s why men often say if they walk into a room of women, ‘You’re all talking over each other!’ We’re not, it’s just cooperative overlap! It sounds a bit sexist but studies have been done and it proves that men are still the dominant gender as they don’t feel the need to both reassure other men and receive reassurance themselves.

How did I get onto linguistics?! I guess, because it’s all linked. It’s all a bit deeper than just how many followers you have or if you’re wearing a nice lipstick. Anyhow, social media – love it or hate it, it’s very much here to stay. Are we going to end up in a ‘Black Mirror’ dystopia? I guess I’ll continue to do the blog and maybe I’ll try and get a bit more dynamic about getting more ‘traffic’ to it. But for now, it’s very interesting to observe and offer my opinion!

social media