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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 06/04/2012 | 1 Comment

I set up a twitter account for myself a few weeks ago but up till now haven't said a dickie bird. Today I reluctantly entered the twitter universe. As a Centre we are also going to tweet and to use facebook more and no doubt LinkedIn – again I'm doing it but I have reservations.

Basically, I feel that I spend enough time on-line with emails, the internet and my minimal facebook presence without ratcheting this up now with twittering and more use of social media.  One of my main problems in life these days is trying to maintain focus or to get space to think things through rather than leap frog from one interesting thing to another. I  really don't need another set of distractions.

Secondly, I don't think that any amount of virtual contact is a substitute for the real thing. Of course, skype and email are great ways for families to keep in touch when they are separated by long distances but there is definitely a trend for folk to sit at  home tweeting, texting, emailing  or whatever rather than interacting with those in their household, their communities or with real friends and colleagues.

Thirdly, while I don't think that social media have caused  the rising narcissistic individualism of our culture they do create a platform for exhibitionism and what Martin Seligman once called 'the bloated self' obsessed with its own doings.

But I give in.  If, like me, you have a message you want to communicate with others then it becomes increasingly counterproductive not to use social media to get it out there – particularly to young people.

But if you sign up for mine or Centre tweets and you ever think we are more interested in tweeting about ourselves rather than broadcasting the message about our work (here's what I am having for lunch bla, bla) then I urge you to hit 'unfollow' .... But do let us know what you think and help us to explore the social media world and use it for the best.

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Joined: 06/04/2012

Comment Posted: 06/04/2012 02:27
Re virtual contact vs. real world contact you might like Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone? recent TED Talk, http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html. These are valid concerns and there doesn't seem to be much discussion about how society is adapting to our ever-growing love affair with devices separating us from each other or our incessant 'talking' but without really listening and reflecting.

On the flip side though I think there are potential gains to be had in the realm of well-being and mental health. Email seems to carry a more invasive 'you must read me' pressure, workers often complain of 'the tyrany of the 'ping' (the sound when another email arrives and an accompanying sense of weary dread) and yet they seem unable to resist reading and responding even when they're on holiday. With Twitter it's more like sticking a jam jar into a stream to collect water. You read when you want to (usually more relaxed) and sending small 'sound bite' messages can be much easier to do when you're stressed or enable you to communicate when you're not feeling particularly talkative.

I think the views you express are pretty common to most people starting on Twitter, most of us start off 'what's the point? I don't get it', the turning point is usually when someone you *don't* know replies to something you've posted. As the old saying goes 'you've got to speculate, to accumulate' and I feel that particularly applies to Twitter, don't give up too soon, it can have an amazing ability for like-minded people and organisations to find each other in an informal way and time and again I've witnessed many real world collaborations/projects take off after the form of brainstorming amongst initial strangers that started on Twitter. Enjoy :-)
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