I have been using social media a lot in looking for work. But it seems I might well have been wasting my time. Or even worse risking my liberty or bank balance in doing so.
You may well have read or heard about the failure of the appeal against conviction by Paul Chambers who tweeted a threat about an airport. Frustrated about its closure due to snow he vented his spleen on Twitter in January this year. Any reasonable reading of the words he used, the context in which he used them and a cursory exploration of Mr Chamber’s character should have resulted in a, ‘That was daft don’t do it again,’ conversation.
Instead we have been treated to the full panoply of the law enforcement and judicial system grinding its way to a conclusion that is plainly batty.
Twitter is also often singled out for attack as a virtual refuge for unredeemable narcissists who burden the rest of humanity with the minutiae of their drab lives. The attackers almost always seem to be smugly self-satisfied about their own ignorance of the medium. ‘Isn’t it self-evidently a waste of time?’ seems to be their starting point.
The latest attack is on a civil servant from the Department of Transport. This is asymetric warfare of a particularly nasty kind and has been rightly, roundly and amusingly abused by the admirable @adrianshort on his blog here.
I am left to conclude that history would look very different if key decisions had been left in the hands of the technological nay-sayers.
Here are some of the tabloid headlines from history we never got to enjoy:
‘Fire: it will never catch on – ‘Cold is why the gods made mammoths hairy,’ claims tribal chief.’
‘Agriculture waste of time claims man who says food grows on trees.’
‘Writing systems encourage civil service time-wasting says Sumerian armchair auditor.’
‘Bronze-is-Best compaigner slain in fight with Iron inventor.’
‘Loving your neighbour ‘daft and will go nowhere’ claims Roman critic of new religion.’
‘Renaissance is plot by liberal elite says angry mob. ‘Gothic and no perspective good enough for parents’ says man with flaming brand.
‘Steam power makes life too cushy for labouring classes says outraged man in coffee house.’
‘Railways may mean common people will move around, worries woman in hat.’
‘Air travel doomed to failure says White Star Line Chairman.’
‘Computers complete waste of time says bloke with fountain pen.’
Attacking anything because it is new and you do not understand it shows an almost admirable contempt for one of history’s clearest lessons: change is inexorable.
So, the warnings from our modern Cassandras about the futility of getting involved in social media will also go unheeded by me.
I’ll keep tweeting, blogging, linking in, searching job sites, collaborating with others, learning new stuff and generally arguing the toss through social media and whatever else comes along.
And I’ll do so smug in the knowledge that fortune very often favours the brave or, as I might have said in resisting the rising tide of Anglo-Saxon in the 5th Century: fortes fortuna iuvat. That would have been just before getting my head split open by a grumpy Saxon for being a change-resisting git.
Those were the days.