Apparently, it’s for the young and trendy kids. But what the hell did they ever know?


Cast your mind back to January 2009 if you will, and the crash of US Airways flight 1549. You probably don’t remember it by name, but you may recall it by description. Shortly after take-off from LaGuardia Airport in New York, the Airbus A320 captained by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger experienced a bird strike to both engines and the aeroplane was forced to ditch in the Hudson river. There was no loss of life and even the NTSB referred to it, probably off the record, as "the most successful [ditching] ... in aviation history”. The event came to be known as ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ because Americans get all gooey-eyed over God when a potential disaster is averted which rather detracts from the real reason for there being no fatalities which comes down to the actions of the pilots, the design on the aeroplane, the life saving equipment carried on board, the cool heads of the flight attendants and passengers, the prompt actions of the rescuers, the trained emergency services and the medical staff at the local hospitals. Nobody questioned the actions of the almighty for allowing the birds to be in the flightpath, or for the gruesome sounding aftermath whereby, to prevent similar accidents, a few months later 1235 Canada geese across New York City were captured and gassed, and 1739 goose eggs were coated with oil to smother the developing goslings.

Praise. The. Lord.

Anyway, despite being created in 2006, it was this event, along with a few others that brought Twitter to more mainstream public attention. Although the userbase had been growing rapidly since launch, Twitter became a news story in its own right when eye witnesses to the crash of flight 1549 were able to tweet images around the world in seconds, and long before any news crew had arrived to be able to start reporting from the scene. No longer did you have to wait for news to be packaged and presented via radio, TV or a website, all-new citizen journalism meant those on Twitter could see at a glance what the big buzz was all about anywhere in the world at that moment in time, and you could view images and reactions from the very people on the ground. That’s why I opened a Twitter account in 2009 and how I heard about Michael Jackson’s death in June of that year on Twitter first and before the next scheduled BBC News broadcast.

Sadly, the downside of this was that it was open to misuse, and so we have fake news and shouty nonsense on all social media platforms today. Social media should have expanded human communication and learning, instead abuse of it provides a means to spread every loony theory to those willing to believe what they want to believe despite any hard evidence to the contrary. We literally have a resurgence in people believing the Earth is flat because of videos they’ve watched on YouTube, and it’s sadly ironic that improvements in technology are the cause of the world dumbing down around us. It sometimes almost makes me feel that the machines should be allowed to take over. The pub loudmouth whose tinfoil hat rantings used to pass no further than the earshot of his fellow drunks in the public bar now has communication platforms on the smartphone in his pocket to spread hate, misinformation and ill informed opinion across the globe, and he can connect to like minded wankers who will reinforce and echo whatever shite he spouts.

But hey, I like Twitter, so when I started this business in 2012, I opened a business account for my (once polite) corporate tweeting.

The trouble with old twitter was that it was based around 140 characters and didn’t support pictures. Ten years ago, to tweet a picture I would have to use a third-party solution such as TwitPic or Twitxr and the tweet would contain a link to the picture on that external service. This meant some of my paltry 140 characters were lost to a URL and that someone looking at my Twitter feed would have to click the link to see the picture. It wasn’t until 2011 that Twitter started supporting pictures in-house, but in the meantime, Instagram was launched specifically for photo blogging, a service that actively worked with pictures. I created an Insta account in 2012, but it was short lived. I just didn’t get it; you could take a picture, ruin it with a cheesy filter to make it look like it was snapped using a 70’s Polaroid and show it to the world, if the world was watching. But Twitpic or Twitxr also allowed me to blog pictures, and without the silly filter gimmicks. Once Twitter had picture hosting in-house, there was really nothing Instagram had to offer, at least for me, so I shuttered my account and got by just fine without it.

But, for some inexplicable reason, Instagram remains popular. There are two things I loathe about Instagram, and they happen to be the same two things that make Instagram what it is: you must upload a picture to say anything and it only works on mobile platforms.

Sounds daft I know, but Twitter allows me to fire out a quick comment without having to accompany it with a photo of my lunch, the weather, my cat or a dick-pic. Also, I spend most of my off-hours either at my desk or behind my laptop because that’s what happens when you’re self-employed. Twitter has a web interface that allows me to tweet using my actual physical keyboard away from the ballache of inaccurate predictive texting or touchscreen tappings. I can keep an eye on my notifications, messages, trending topics and the tweets of those I follow on my nice, big 61cm LED monitor. Instagram has no web interface, it’s all done on the mobile phone; it forces one to use a poxy 11cm screen and a fiddly keyboard, and as such it’s no fun. Worse, it’s a pain in the arse: I actively dislike it.

But, the world and its damn dog seems to think it’s a great idea, so I’m on Instagram until I lose patience with it, but don’t expect to see much appear on my feed because even on the best of days I want to throw my mobile phone at a fucking wall and I don’t fancy fiddling about on it any more than I have to in order to use Instagram’s crappy app.

While I’m moaning about social networks, allow me to take the opportunity to stick my steel toe-cap up the arse of Linked-bloody-In. I’ve never been on LinkedIn, and I’ve never needed it. I get that it’s useful to those who want to build up a social network based around their professional life, but it’s not for me. Imagine my surprise then when back in February I stumbled across a business page for David Savery Electrical Services Ltd. that I had nothing to do with setting up and hadn’t been notified of. It seems LinkedIn, the cheeky pricks, had taken it upon themselves to invite me to their party as an unwilling guest. I had to contact them to ‘claim’ the page whereupon I found people had already used it to message me or to send me invitations to join them as they were under the (not unreasonable) impression that I was behind the thing.

I have the option to delete my LinkedIn profile, but I’m keeping it for now to prevent them or anyone else from creating a page in my name in the future, but I’ll be damned if I use the bloody thing.

linkedin

The great thing about being old, self employed and cynical is that you can say what you want, within reason, without worrying that your solid client base will be shaken and put off.


Just to round things off, a third reason for me to dislike Instagram is because it’s owned by Facebook, the social network I really do love to hate. As detailed in another news article, I reluctantly opened a business Facebook profile in 2015, three years after starting up, because again world + dog seemed to be on there. I myself had a personal account that I’d opened back in 2011, much later to the party than most. Facebook is just creepy though, and they deserve to have had the media bashing they’ve endured of late with their fake news and scammy advertisers. I closed my accounts in May 2018, and I’ve not missed them at all, but it’s annoying that when I open the Instagram app on my phone it nags me to import the Facebook contacts I don’t have.

So, yes, I am on Instagram and LinkedIn, but the former won’t see much action, and the latter is merely a placeholder account; I didn’t even take note of the password I used to get on there as I never intend to return. If you want interaction with me on a social platform, and why wouldn’t you(?), then you’ll find me to be very active on Twitter and YouTube…. at least for the foreseeable future. To be honest, all social networking can become a bit of a drain, and there are some days where I think about canning the lot of ‘em to return to a quieter life.