Q Are you on Facebook?
A Do I look like the sort of person who wants everyone to know what I had for dinner, what I look like without make-up on and when I last pole-danced around a broom at the Christmas party? (yes, I really did that).
Q Are you on twitter?
Robin Banks would like to join you on Linked-In, the e-mails say, so I press delete, delete, delete. I’m quite a private person really. What if someone takes an unhealthy interest in me and starts physically following me, or I’ve upset a school friend decades ago who still bears a grudge, or Hitchin Library discovers I’ve still got the Peter Rabbit book from 1966 and they track me down?
‘Why don’t you get WhatsApp, Mum?’ My daughter said. ‘You can send texts and messages for free.’ Now you’re talking my language. I signed up for that one and an array of other fantastic apps while I was at it. I’m not a complete technophobe. And ‘Wow!’ I am so impressed with WhatsApp. My daughter and I communicated more when she travelled to Australia for a year than we did when she lived across the landing. Pictures of her kissing kangaroos and hugging koalas were pinging through within minutes of the happy occasion.
And emojis. I love emojis! When I was a kid my comic used to have stories where half the words were missing and pictures inserted instead. My daughter and I had hours of fun sending each other illustrated messages from either side of the globe.
‘Get yourself on Instagram,’ my son said and showed me how to use it. ‘Follow me!’ chimed in my granddaughter. Now, I like Instagram. I like seeing what my extended family is doing and watching snippets of film showing the latest milestone achievements of my great nephews and nieces – banging a spoon on a plate with dinner round their faces, taking their first wobbly steps.
So are we getting too reliant on our phones and are we getting lazy? I’ve just taken a call from my husband to say the cats are upstairs on my son’s bed and need locking downstairs (they claw the carpet in the middle of the night). Why couldn’t he walk down the stairs to tell me? In fact, why couldn’t he bring the cats down? We even sit at the table and call our son to say his dinner is ready when he’s almost close enough to hear us shout (unless he’s working in Leeds that week).
So far I’ve been lured into the joys of instant messaging, photos and videos – yes and the funny animal clips on YouTube – and see now that Facebook was only a short step away. But Facebook still alarms me. Who might be harvesting my information?
OK. I confess. Yes, I now have a Facebook account. I started it for my company as a way to attract applicants for my care agency (we then do thorough checks) but to open a business page I had to have a personal page. Update your profile it said so I put in where I went to school and university. Are you married? it asked. So I put in that I was married. ‘Congratulations!’ people said. What? Sarcastic comments followed from my children. ‘Who’s the lucky man, Mum?’ one posted.
‘I was updating my profile,’ I reply.
‘But you’ve told everyone you got married today, you doughnut.’
For goodness sake. It isn’t very clear, is it? I’m scared to write anything now in case I get it wrong. And even when I do write something, pouring my heart out or using all my best lines, I go back to see if anyone has liked it or commented on it only to find no trace of my post. I think they go to the land of odd socks and teaspoons.
Thinking about it though, I suppose social media can help in the investigation of crime. Peoples’ posts can give so much away about their character, prejudices, grievances and interests. Social media can show connections and potential connections between people. Photos can show someone had particular clothes, shoes, jewellery etc. They can also show places that appear to have particular significance (I’m thinking of Brady and Hindley’s photos of Saddleworth Moor here). Social Media can also help fix people in particular places at particular times. This can help the innocent by establishing alibis or inform investigators of where suspects were at particular times.
Becoming a published crime and thriller writer has meant I now need an author website, Facebook page and Twitter account. I need to put myself ‘Out There’ to bring readers to my pages and generate interest in my books. I’ll be able to engage with my readers and share exciting book developments. I’ll be able to ask opinions, read reviews and maybe even get them to vote on names for characters or venues. I can share ideas and photos of things that inspire me.
I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all if I’m honest. But I know what! I’ll do a Jason Squires social media for business webinar to pick up some tips then I’ll be one step ahead of the game. I’ll amaze my children with my knowledge. They’ll be asking me for advice.
Thirty minutes a day, the trainer says I need, to build contacts and links. It’s all good stuff. But I’ll just have a quick read of these comments first and ooh! That’s a funny post – and who’s she? And I’ll just answer this one and – oh my God! that’s hilarious. I have to share that. Sorry? What did you say the time was? Really? Where have those two hours gone?