If you're as old as me, you'll remember the days before the internet ... and social media.
Those days when if we wanted to contact people, we would have to write a letter, take the trouble to meet them in person, or phone them.
Today, though, we can post something online, send a 'direct message' on one of the social media platforms and get almost instantaneous replies.
It's like magic!
Well I think it is anyway.
When social media first came around I was a bit dubious. Did I really want to tell the world what I was up to? Did I really want my opinion out there? Did I want to get involved in conversations not just with people I know, but perhaps with those I don't?
Well ... the answer was 'YES'... although I determined from the start that I would try to be wise.
Social media has, of course, been accused of creating the downfall of humanity, or something similar.
But actually I've realised that social media is only the vehicle for misbehaviour and vile, and even evil. It allows us to be more vocal, to be nasty ... especially for those who want to do so while 'hiding' in plain sight.
And it's down to us all to call it out.
Take, for instance, the recent racist vile and vitriol posted online ... on Twitter primarily ... by those who blamed certain individual footballers for losing the England football team the Euro 2021 Cup.
So, a few of those most excellent young sportsmen missed a penalty which meant that the Italians won the game, and picked up the trophy.
In the past those racists who pointed out that these brilliant sportsmen are not white might have spouted their evil to like minded friends in the pub. But instead they posted on Twitter. Which thankfully resulted in lots of 'calling out' .. and hopefully a ban from that social media platform. Hopefully for life!
Posting on social media in public IS just like having your face on a big poster for all to see. And if you think you can behave immorally and unethically, and with hatred and offence, then think again!
You will be called out and there are masses of us online now who are determined that the social media platforms will NOT be hijacked by the 'Nasty'.
When I first started using social media, there were lots of people who doubted my sanity and thought I was going to the 'dark side' of life. Social media was an evil place and we should all stay clear. If we didn't want to be corrupted, we should just not go there.
But I quickly learned that it didn't have to be like that. We don't have to exclude ourselves from the magic of social media. In fact, we can be part of the solution, rather than the problem or allowing the problems to be perpetuated.
I've seen so much amazing stuff, so much positivity, on social media. Prayer circles for sick friends, positive quotes and comments for people to be inspired by, encouragement for folk who are having a hard time. Certainly during the COVID19 pandemic, and lockdown, social media was a bit of a saviour for a lot of us, keeping us in touch with our family and friends when we could not meet.
So ... as for me ... when I'm on social media I try to block the negative. I report when I see bad stuff, and I try to stay away from the controversial discussions. I certainly don't welcome them into my life and I don't go looking for the bad, but I do try to share the 'good'. It's part of what I'm trying to do with this daily blog, which I daily also post to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
I'm mentioning all this today because apparently it was on July 15 2006 that Twitter was publicly launched!
Yes, it wasn't that long ago and yet these days Twitter and the other social media platforms - Facebook, Instagram, and now Tik Tok and other newer inventions - are just part of our every day life. And some of us can't imagine life without it!
When Twitter came along, with its 140 character limit, I thought I'd never get it.
As you know if you read this blog regularly, I'm a bit verbose!
But now I love it. These days I get up to 280 characters to say what I want to say, but for me each tweet is a bit of challenge.
Although the first 'tweet' or message was sent in March 2006 by the company's CEO Jack Dorsey, (who created the platform with Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams) it was publicly launched in July and it soon caught on. By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and Twitter was handling an average of 1.6 billion search queries every day.
Today (actually as of January this year) Twitter has in excess of 350million active users!
It's a powerful platform.
Yes, of course those who run these huge companies have a duty of care to ensure the platform is not abused, and to ensure those who do abuse others online are dealt with, but it is also down to us, the users, to ensure we behave online, and to call out those who don't.
If I want social media to be a healthy place, I need to be part of the community which encourages goodness online.
And I suggest that if we all did a bit of that, the world (and that includes social media) will be a better place!