Writing about my adventures with Tag and then posting them on-line using Word Press and Facebook, is something I find both exciting and scary in equal measures. And I don’t think the nervous feeling I get when I click on the ‘publish’ button will ever leave me. But what motivates me and makes it truly special is that I can share these thoughts and moments of time with my friends from all over the world. Receiving feedback and comments as if they were in the same room. I still start every post by putting pen to paper before I start typing, but pre-internet (is that now an actual punctuation in time?), that is as far as my ramblings would have gotten. So, there is now a world of opportunity at our fingertips, that gives people that enjoy writing the chance to share their thoughts with a live audience, rather than them just staying in a bedside cabinet drawer. I also thoroughly enjoy reading about every one else’s horsey adventures and do believe that certain pages and posts have brought communities of people together that would otherwise feel isolated. But every silver lining needs a cloud and unfortunately the downsides of the internet are as real as rain.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton said that the ‘pen was mightier than the sword’ (yes I googled it), and in today’s society it seems truer than ever. I have read some comments on Facebook and Twitter – by the so called ‘keyboard warriors’, although I could think of better names – that have made me physically curdle and I often wonder if that person would have the nerve to verbalise such statements to the person’s face. But I doubt it and that is where the power of this ‘live’, faceless, form of communication becomes misused and abused.
Being a generation X-er, all of my new experiences as a teenager, right through to a young adult, were enjoyed without the addition of social media or any sort of on-line promotion of where I was or how much fun I was having. That’s not to say that there isn’t photographic evidence (I still remembering sweating in the Boots queue, waiting for my photos, just in case someone disapproved of our antics), but to be honest compared to some of the stuff I’ve seen on-line, we were quite tame. Don’t get me wrong, when I was a teenager at a DIY livery yard and struggling to get to grips with my new horse, I would have loved a way of asking for help, but somehow we managed. I have experienced the pain of falling out with friends, I have felt the push of bossy girls on the walk home from school and I have relied solely on word of mouth to let a boy know that I liked him. And I’m glad that none of that was publicised on Facebook or photographed for Instagram, as in many cases I think it could have changed the outcome – and I suspect not for the better.
Thanks to my eight year old son, our family has become the proud owners of a Playstation and the hugely addictive, completely random, wish I’d though of it, game: ‘Fortnite’. So now we have taken our in-house/on-line presence to a whole new level. Not only can fellow gamers chat to each other verbally, but you can also hear their mother shouting at them to ‘get off that sodding playstation and tidy their room’. Bringing families together all over the world, how nice.
Is it a step forward that participants (usually boys under 10 years old) can hear someone’s voice rather than just see their text? Personally, I’m not convinced. I think the mouth can often move quicker than the brain and I reply to many texts three times, before I have made my answer palatable enough to press send. Unless there is eye contact (which I am sure is probably already available), I don’t think a true assessment of a person’s reactions can be gauged in a text. And of course none of this falls under the remit of human nature and the fact that people generally avoid confrontation and want to be nice to each other (or am I just being naive?). So, I am reluctant to get a headset for my son, which would allow him to engage in the vocal side of this technology, but I suspect peer pressure on him and then me, will break me down eventually.
On the plus side, there are wonderful vloggers, such as ‘ThisEsme’, who my daughter recently had the huge pleasure of meeting, who promotes old fashioned stable management ideas in a medium that appeals to a younger audience, genius. So as I continue to exploit the wonders of social media in a way that suits me, without getting too involved in other people’s opinions or keyboard confrontations, I’m sure Tag will relish in the regular photography and flatwork re-takes. And honestly, how did we ever live without Google….