Believe it or not but the internet-that global network of information and communication that virtually rules our lives-reflects the social hierarchy of our physical world.
For a start, you will always find the naive beginner on Facebook or social media who we geeks (seasoned or know-it-all users) call a newbie. They then grow up and begin the serious unfriending process. Let’s call this digital rightsizing – getting the right group of friends that you talk to, who listen and talk back with some respect.
What about other online “bies“? Here’s a few festive examples I made up while imbibing my favourite beer, Hansa with Vuyo, the marketing face of this awesome Pilsner.
Take for instance the wannabie-those desperate, shameless social climbers who follow and latch onto public figures or groups they want to suck up to. This breed of internet parasites like everything they target, and only what the target says, regardless of the content. This, is the evolved definition of digital worship.
Just look through your friends’ list and watch as they like everything the target says to a point where they even ignore a friendly post where you compliment them! Swipe Left, I say!
Another group are the freebies. They spread virally across the internet inviting friends and contacts with the ultimate intention of building a mailing list. They leverage-or should I say peddle – this freebie mailing list to further their professional careers. They completely ignore your posts, then suddenly, in the friendliest way possible, will inbox you to support their public campaign and generate enough likes to become Mr or Mrs something. Which translates to: I accept your request, just in case, I need you. Until then, I will ignore your digital presence.
I dismiss this group as the politicians of the net who, quite frankly, should just F(ace) Off. Swipe Left, I insist!
How about another pleasurable stratum of the internet society that I call clickabies. They just like everything and love everyone. It’s easy to distinguish these folks from the wannabies. These clickabies are clickoholics who are the grandmas and grandpas of our walls. Ever so sweet and always encouraging, they click because they care. We need them because they are our omnipresent internet moral compasses.
Yet another group, the needtobies, will do anything to get to the magical 5000 friends. They need to be important and grandiose is everything to them. They also write themselves into every narrative.
One local leader had the audacity to insult people after he had reached the magical 5000, declaring: ‘See if I care, I have reached the number, unfollow me if you want.’
So, I unfollowed him and it felt good. It was excellent therapy. I am now free of reading his self-indulgent drivel.
What? My writing is self-indulgent? Well, that may be so but at least it has an academic veneer. There I have now been bie-littled myself. On a serious note the phenomenon that is Social Media and the way with which it has connected the world, has arguably more positives then negatives.
As we enter this period of love and happiness, here are a few suggestions for the festive season. Do what I will be doing – plan to swipe left (unfriending) a few wannabies some freebies and every-other-‘bie’ that I don’t care much about. It’s a season of mutual love not adulation. Try it during the holidays. It’s good therapy, much better than beer or Myprodol.
Back up your photos – using Google or Flikr to do this. You can recreate everything else if your device dies or goes AWOL on you, but never, ever your photos. These remain the simple unintended usefulness of posting – you have an online copy!
Also think about giving the newbie a chance – you were there once. While you’re at it, won’t you send me a friend request? I too am trying to get to 5000 friends, but only as a research exercise, you do understand!
Finally, firmly invoke the computer binary spirit of on and off. Switch off for family, comfort and to recharge so we can switch on to an awesome 2020!
Try this awesome trick. Switch the household router off. In a few minutes the family will emerge from their respective rooms in a perplexed state asking about connectivity. Tell them it’s a warmware problem. That hardware and software is on a short break and you are experimenting with an ancient Family concept called Face to Face (F2F) communication. And talk to each other! I shall be abandoning social media for three weeks.
Don’t text and drive. Do surf well and surf safely – though only in the new year!
From me and mine, to you and yours, have Happy Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
Dr Colin Thakur is DUT’s BankSeta and InSeta Research Chair and the e-Skills CoLab Director. His demystifies the joy and idiosyncrasy of technology through irreverence.