Remember a time before people became obsessed with sharing their unfiltered thoughts with everyone? I do, although I am getting on a bit.
It was such a great idea, wasn’t it? A new groundbreaking way to communicate, linking people across the world, reconnecting friends and creating groups with similar interests.
Except social media wasn’t created with such altruistic intentions.
In 2004, a 19-year old Mark Zuckerberg was messaging with a friend shortly after launching Facebook and was asked how he was able to obtain users’ details so easily.
Hi answer – “They trust me. Dumb f***s!”
It’s all about data as currency and a big part of that is targetted advertising. It only takes a quick Google search for “gas fires”, “bathroom tiles”, “birthday presents for age 5 and over” or “Levi jeans” for those items to suddenly begin appearing as if by magic on my Facebook or any subsequent unrelated website visit. Ads pop up with what seems to be alarming synchronicity – wow, I was just thinking about that an hour ago.
And so so many of the now 2.2billion users on the planet just blindly accept it without question – too engrossed in selfies, their profile, vacuous influencers, photographing their dinner and incessant Tik Tok inanity (The length of which is about to go up from one to three minutes so heaven help us all).
Zuckerberg’s words 17 years ago may have been disrespectful but in hindsight they ring disturbingly true.
And I must be one of those dumb f**ks because I post to Twitter, Facebook and Linkdin for work and regardless of what I now know, I still have a personal Facebook account (I don’t have the time or inclination to use the others. It’s just too much).
At least I don’t post pictures of what I’m about to eat.
What really concerns me is, if tech giants can get this information so easily, what else can they access?
As the smartphone generation grabbed ownership of a new technological age, little did they know that the instant gratification of using a keyboard to mouth off would have consequences.
Twitter, Facebook and the rest have become ticking time-bombs for public figures especially, set to detonate, sometimes more than a decade later when things long since forgotten or bitterly regretted with maturity are dragged up to destroy reputations and careers in this new puritanical pc-maniacal cancel culture, stirred up by the national tabloids, of the past being judged by today’s standards.
When I had a boss I often used to wish there was a 30 second delay from the time I hit send on an email so I had time to delete it before opening myself up to a whole lot of trouble – and I’m used to editing myself – so putting social media in the hands of literally anyone is the equivalent of letting a child play catch with a grenade. You never know when the pin is going to fall out.
We’ve all done things we’re not particularly proud of online, whether it’s an embarrassing allegiance bred from naivety and ignorance or a misjudged attempt at humour.
But woe betide you should become a celebrity or find yourself in the public eye in the ensuing years because every thoughtless keystroke is just sitting there waiting for someone to use against you,
And use it they will. You will be held to account no matter how much reflection and growing up you’ve done in the meantime.
It doesn’t matter that it’s something you wouldn’t say today, they’re coming for you with torches and pitchforks to drive you out of the village you monster.
Why is there a statue of Caitlin Jenner with three random kids in Kensington Palace’s sunken garden?
No wonder Harry got on the first plane back to LA.