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No. 1 Magazine - - DEBATE - Tweet Karen @Goody_kate

Says Karen By­rom, fic­tion ed­i­tor for a na­tional mag­a­zine.

First of all, dis­clo­sure time – my use of so­cial me­dia ex­tends to Face­book and Twit­ter. I haven’t yet mas­tered In­sta­gram, Snapchat or any other of the as­sorted plat­forms avail­able to us nowa­days. But I will get round to them all – be­cause I be­lieve that de­spite its draw­backs, the in­ter­net has im­proved the way we com­mu­ni­cate. Yes, there is gos­sip – and of­ten some spite – to be found on­line, but that’s true of any so­ci­ety, big or small. No one would sug­gest we with­draw from that sort of so­cial in­ter­ac­tion – so why take pride in say­ing “Oh, I never use Face­book” or “Twit­ter is for trolls”. Yes, there are trolls who can make life mis­er­able for the peo­ple they abuse, but the vast ma­jor­ity of Face­book and Twit­ter users are pleas­ant peo­ple, just like you and me, keen to pass on/pick up in­ter­est­ing in­for­ma­tion, share news and pho­to­graphs and do a lit­tle bit of net­work­ing. Twit­ter is in­valu­able – I use it all the time for work, and rather than ab­sorb­ing my days, it has freed up my time. No longer do I email mul­ti­ple pub­lish­ers or call half a dozen au­thors. With one tweet, and a cou­ple of ju­di­ciously placed Twit­ter “han­dles” my as­so­ci­ates know that I am busy on their be­half, pro­mot­ing their nov­els along with the mag­a­zine. And, at a glance, I can find out what’s new in the world of lit­er­a­ture. Twit­ter is of­ten my only way to meet the peo­ple I’d like to write for the mag­a­zine, and al­lows me to form in­valu­able pro­fes­sional friend­ships. When I do fi­nally get to meet my con­tacts in per­son, I al­ready feel at ease with them, thanks to our Twit­ter di­a­logues. Face­book plays a dif­fer­ent role in my life. Here, I keep up with friends and fam­ily. Would I even know my Cana­dian cousins if I met them in the street, if it weren’t for Face­book? For me, Face­book is about fam­ily – and fam­ily is the ba­sis for any so­ci­ety. Why wouldn’t we choose to com­mu­ni­cate with them on daily ba­sis? Once we’d have kept in touch with let­ters and phone calls that would grad­u­ally fall away. Out of sight is out of mind, but Face­book brings the fam­ily back to the fore, and re­in­forces re­la­tion­ships. Face­book also keeps me in­formed. ‘Like’ a page and I have in­for­ma­tion at my fin­ger­tips about lo­cal weather, news, pol­i­tics. En­gag­ing in fre­quent con­ver­sa­tions, I’m kept posted about what’s hap­pen­ing in the wider world. Is so­cial me­dia dam­ag­ing the way we com­mu­ni­cate? When I see young peo­ple sit­ting in a group, stu­diously tap­ping away on their phones and ap­par­ently ig­nor­ing each other, I won­der why they’ve both­ered to get to­gether in the first place! But then I re­mind my­self that they are all to­gether, have prob­a­bly gath­ered to­gether through a so­cial me­dia in­vite. They don’t lack “real” friends – they’re just for­tu­nate to have loads more friends out there, all just a key tap away. I firmly be­lieve that we should view so­cial me­dia as an ex­ten­sion of per­sonal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, rather than an in­truder into “or­di­nary life”. With­out so­cial me­dia, I’d never be alerted about Northern Lights ablaze out­side; it would take a dozen phone calls to or­gan­ise a “real-life” so­cial; and ev­ery­one would know ev­ery­thing be­fore I did!

En­gag­ing in con­ver­sa­tions, I’m kept posted about what’s hap­pen­ing in the wider world

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