Earlier this year I delivered a Digital Media module to post-graduates for Cambridge Marketing College and compared social media to the modern equivalent of chatting over the garden fence.
It may be because I’ve just completed a ‘dry January’ or maybe because I’ve been at a social media crossroads for some time, but a curious analogy occurred to me one morning as I slowly gained consciousness…social media is like a virtual pub.
Unlike reality, however, these pubs offer 24/7 opening hours where you’re welcome to visit anytime, there will always be someone around to talk to, or just listen to if your prefer. You can chat about anything, share your thoughts, joys and woes, on any subject from work and business to your social life and hobbies.
There is no dress-code or expectation for you to do your hair and make-up (gentlemen!) and you can part-take of a beverage or two without fear of being barred. Yes, there may be an element of social-media etiquette that you probably abide by but, by and large, you can be yourself….or anyone else you want to be.
Let’s take a peek inside some of their doors:
- Twitter is the local you frequent regularly, stand at the bar and catch up with all the gossip, participate in banter and have a few laughs. There are lots of new potential friends who visit this establishment and who are easy to chat to.
- Facebook is the pub you visit when you want to pull up a seat, get out your holiday snaps and support your family and friends or celebrate successes. Occasionally you’ll agree to meet new people there but you usually catch up with old, familiar faces.
- Google+ is a like new ‘themed’ pub that you probably have to drive to. It’s not so easy to get to but when you do pop in, it’s really well organised with little groups of people huddled in separate areas, chatting about common subjects so you know exactly who to talk to about what, when.
For many of us, we choose to frequent all of these pubs and many more besides, visiting as frequently as, or whenever, we want to. The only currency necessary for our visit is the time we have to invest, which for many of us is a scarce resource so we need to choose our visits well.
But beware, just like reality, these virtual pubs harbour a danger – their wares can easily become addictive, sapping our time and energy, and infiltrating our lives in a most possessive way.
So enjoy visiting your favourite virtual drinking hole but, like everything, moderation is the key. For me, I visit all the pubs often so, if you fancy joining me for a chat, click the social media icons above and I’ll see you there.