Whenever I am met with sneering superiority on telling people I work a lot on (and enjoy using) social media, or when someone posits to me that it is the scourge of modern society and that everyone would be better off without it, I offer a variation on the same two responses:
First, social media is both created and used by humans. Any cruelty/poor behaviour on there is a reflection of the human behind the keypad, nothing more. Might it be the case that their unpalatable character is amplified by anonymity? Potentially. But humans have hidden behind uniforms and job titles and family statuses for time immemorial. Someone who’s a plonker on social media is unquestionably a plonker in all walks of life and my suggestion to those bothered by them is to do online as you’d do in real life: divorce them from your society.
Second, for many, many people, the online world is a place of compassion and a hub of ideas and support that they may not otherwise have access to in their lives. I daily receive messages from those who have found instagram in particular to be a source of diversion from the more unpleasant or mundane parts of a day, and from those who have found ‘influencers’ or journalists who use the medium to share ideas and offer a sense of much-needed community.
I definitely consider myself to be part of the second group of people, and have found many accounts to buoy and inspire and offer consolation when I need it. And it just so happens that many of the people who I think do great work across social media and beyond made it onto the Marie Claire’s 2019 Verified Power List.
AND SO DID I.
I was so pleased that I took my mum to the party to celebrate (which she pointed out was only fitting as my parents never got to see me graduate from uni because my panic attacks were so bad at that point that I merely donned the gear, took a photo, and hopped in a cab to scuttle back to the safety of West London as agoraphobes are wont to do, so I kind of owed her some sort of achievement ceremony).
Here’s the official blurb on the criteria for the list from Marie Claire:
“In our complicated and messy modern world, a meaningless pout posted on social media no longer cuts it. We’re looking to influencers who have something to say, and who are prepared to take a stand. Style without substance is not enough when there’s so much at stake – from the future of our planet and our politics to the ongoing fight for equality and representation. That’s why the Marie Claire Verified power list 2019 champions women who use Instagram to amplify a positive message, inspire others, build a community, start a movement or open a difficult conversation. We’re celebrating those who use their influence – today’s most sort-after commodity – to make things a bit better than they were yesterday.”
And here’s a link to the list – I would really encourage you to follow everyone on it – and THANK YOU for reading my work/liking it/egging me on.