Social Media: The Teenage Years

stephen fryIn the face of a midwinter morning, it would be so-o-o-o easy to be bitchy.  It’s cloudy without the threat of mystic rain, chilly without being snuggly cold; the light’s all wrong and Stephen Fry has quit Twitter — again.  Fry is the most recent casualty in the War On Humour.  He made a joke at the Baftas and the Eagerly Offended from Social Media were on him like ugly on an ape.  (No offence, apes!)  Anyway, Fry has gone home to lick his wounds, or whatever else takes his fancy, saying, “too many people have peed in the pool” an apt description of Social Media: The Teenage Years.

Everybody knows the Internet has been around since Al Gore invented it back before Bill Clinton taught the world the value of sexual semantics. (See what bitchy looks like?)  However, most people don’t realize that Social Media is barely a dozen years old.  It isn’t even close to the Age of Consent.  In fact, if Social Media were a person, the things we do with it would get us all arrested.  I’ll just let that one sink in for a minute.

My point is Social Media is still an adolescent.  We all have high hopes that it will become that great intellectual and philosophical adult forum which will connect us to the ideas of the world, but … at this point, it’s still just one giant middle school.  It’s a place where we hang with the people who most reinforce our image of the world.  A place where the unfamiliar is viewed with caution, even suspicion — and sometimes anger.  It’s a place where the questions are painted with broad strokes so the answers can be straightforward.  But, beyond all that, like middle school, Social Media is a place where we’re all desperately, desperately trying to fit in and be cool.  In fact, when Glamour editor Jo Elvin took Fry to task, her exact words were “Uncool of Stephen Fry to say bafta winning costume designer dressed like a ‘bag lady’ I was thinking it was cool she wore what she wanted.”  And that’s what it all comes down to: who’s cool and who isn’t.

Cool is a teenage life choice and “I’m more sensitive than you” is a teenage social tactic.  Clearly, Social Media has a lot of growing up to do.  But Stephen Fry said it better, calling Social Media: “A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended — worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.”

Sounds like he doesn’t like the Cool Kids, either.  Get ’em Stephen!

God, it would be so-o-o-o easy to be offended on behalf of Stephen Fry today.  It’s a good thing I’m an adult and don’t go in for that sort of thing.

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