I’ve been ghost hunting recently. That is, looking for photos of places near me that might be haunted. ‘Talk to Julie,’ said Himself. ‘She’s lived here a long time, she’ll have some suggestions.’ She did: and a lot of them were useful sites on… Facebook!
I am of an age (ahem!) when many of my contemporaries regard social media with dismay and suspicion. They are sure their identities are going to get stolen and they will be pursued through the ether by rabid trolls. I have to admit I was the same, for a long time; then, when I put a cautious toe in the water I began to see the benefits.
I really don’t care if my friends had porridge or toast for breakfast (and there are plenty who will tell you about it in exhaustive and repetitive detail) but Facebook and Twitter have more to offer than just idle chat. Whether you are into local history or stamp collecting, there are bound to be like-minded groups where you can share experience and information. And Facebook and Twitter are great if you are doing research into, say, ghosts.
Sometimes there are serendipitous encounters. I once ‘friended’ a man called Ed because he was sharing and re-tweeting my posts and tweets. ‘He’ turned out to be the editor of a local magazine, and she has been amazingly supportive ever since.
Sometimes you can use social media to find something quickly: I was looking for a musician to play a Mozart Horn Concerto for a PowerPoint promotion. Six hours after I posted my plea, I had my musician in place.
And there are always the pleasant surprises when someone you have lost touch with pops up to say hello.
There are some caveats, of course. It’s easy to acquire ‘friends’ on Facebook, but I am wary of accepting people I don’t know, and whose ‘mutual friends’ I don’t know either. Followers on Twitter seem to appear out of nowhere, but there’s no obligation to follow them back if you don’t want to. It should go without saying that if you post a picture of your house (or, heaven forfend, your address) and then burble on about your holiday, you may set yourself up for a burglary. But that’s just common sense, isn’t it?
All this is terribly old hat, of course. No-one with any cred, I gather, uses Facebook any more. I don’t care. Pinterest and Instagram are still a closed book to me – I leave that to the yoof – but I may get there eventually.
And trolls? Here’s an idea: laugh at them! I acquired one on my blog a little while ago. I trumpeted the fact all over Facebook and quoted choice snippets from his post. For instance, he claimed to be an expert in ‘gorilla’ warfare.’ Pity the poor gorillas, I said, should we contact the WWF? Needless to say, that particular troll was never heard from again. And, if you are not brave enough for a confrontation, there’s always the ‘off’ button.
If you’re interested in my ghost researches, or anything else come to that, come and find me on Facebook – Paw Prints in the Butter – or tweet me @perdisma. I promise not to harm a single gorilla.