The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Deirdre Macken macken.deirdre@

When a friend sug­gested I down­load Snapchat, I had a flashback. The girls are out on the town and, be­ing young and silly, some­one sug­gests we visit a strip joint. We find a sleazy-look­ing door­way and stand out­side ar­gu­ing whether it’s a top­less bar, a strip club, a brothel or a place where silly girls dis­ap­pear for­ever.

That’s what I think of Snapchat. And those thoughts are born of ig­no­rance, over­heard bus con­ver­sa­tions and too much in­for­ma­tion about An­thony Weiner. My friend tried to dis­abuse me of those thoughts — it’s a visu­ally witty way of com­mu­ni­cat­ing, ev­i­dently — but I know I’d get into trou­ble there.

I’m not alone. Other friends are ner­vous about so­cial me­dia sites. One says she’d never go to Twit­ter be­cause she’ll get bashed up; one won’t go to Facebook be­cause it seems too much like gossip; and oth­ers don’t feel arty enough for In­sta­gram. It’s ob­vi­ous that we need a guide to so­cial me­dia.

So, ac­com­pa­nied by some dig­i­tal na­tives, I’ve donned hot pants for a tour to ex­plain the gath­er­ing places of the 21st cen­tury to those who still feel more com­fort­able in the pre­vi­ous one.

First, Facebook. This is a fam­ily wed­ding and there’s no avoiding it. Ev­ery­one is here, in­clud­ing un­cles who make in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments and play­mates you barely re­mem­ber ex­cept that they never shared toys. Still, there are enough friends and fam­ily to make it worth­while; you get to catch up on news and, be­cause it’s so big, there are lots of cor­ners to hide in.

Twit­ter: This is a house party held by the cool group. There are celebri­ties, side­kicks and lots of peo­ple wit­tier than you. In short, you know who they are and they have no idea who you are. It’s a loud shindig and, un­less you are full of it, you will be rel­e­gated to the edge of the crowd.

In­sta­gram: This is friend­lier to in­tro­verts. It’s like an art gallery open­ing where you know the ex­pe­ri­ence will be up­lift­ing even if the wine is un­drink­able. You don’t have to pa­rade your­self but you do have to prove your cool by parad­ing your tastes. This group tol­er­ates ec­centrics.

Snapchat is a disco. There are images flash­ing, peo­ple who ap­pear and dis­ap­pear in a wink, and in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour in the toi­lets that spills on to the dance floor late at night. These events are a blast but you can leave feel­ing as if you haven’t re­ally talked to any­one, yet you’re pretty sure you’ve done some­thing you’ll re­gret.

Pin­ter­est: If this were 100 years ago it would be a sewing club. Yes, most vis­i­tors are women in their mid­dle years and they like shar­ing crafty ideas. This doesn’t mean it’s not sta­tus con­scious. The shar­ing done here shows off your taste, even if it ex­poses the lim­its of your wal­let. It’s friendly and you don’t have to so­cialise too much. Lots of cluck­ing but no kvetch­ing.

LinkedIn: Why did you buy those tick­ets to the con­fer­ence? Now that you’re here, you know you’re go­ing to glean only a few use­ful tips and, even though ev­ery­one is wear­ing a name tag, there aren’t many busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. Face it, you’re try­ing to sell some­thing and they’re try­ing to sell some­thing but no­body’s buy­ing. Sure, you go to these con­fer­ences only a cou­ple of times a year, but it’s a dis­ap­point­ment ev­ery time.

Tum­blr: Are you at uni? If not, you’re not go­ing to en­joy this. It’s like be­ing in class where smar­ty­pants are pass­ing around notes. Still, it’s a bright, breezy gang that wants to change the world and, if that’s not pos­si­ble, at least they’ll be well in­formed about the world’s end.

Red­dit: This is a rave in a ware­house. You have to be in the know to find out where it’s be­ing held, but once you ar­rive ev­ery­one is all over it. There’s no bluff­ing here. If you don’t know your stuff the bounc­ers are go­ing to kick you out. If you walk in here by ac­ci­dent, walk out again, turn left and find that Snapchat disco.

OK, we’ve cov­ered most of the events hap­pen­ing around town. But don’t be com­pla­cent, small bars are pop­ping up all the time — Foursquare, Periscope, Quora — and you may find your­self stand­ing out­side one of them won­der­ing if it’s safe to go in. Fi­nal tip: find out where your friends are hang­ing out and go there.

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