OPINION: I loathe social media

IT SEEMS as though I have become something of a Facebook widow.

No, I don't have a partner who spends hours communicating with all and sundry via the social media behemoth, but because I refuse to use it myself to communicate with friends, all my Facebook-using acquaintances, many of them mates I've had for decades, unintentionally ignore me.

Several have apologised, saying they don't think to email or phone people any more as they post all their news on FB. So I find out months later that someone's son has moved in with his girlfriend (or boyfriend, as the case may be), someone else has started a new business.

I do have a FB account, under a fake name - as I loathe it with a passion - but have discovered that it is often the quickest way to get a response from big businesses; it seems no company (telcos and health insurers in particular) wants unresolved complaints staring readers in the face for too long. And when my bathroom renovation was completed a few weeks ago I posted before and after photos for the benefit of a couple of friends who rely on a tiny internet download from their Tasmanian bush abode as it allowed them to see the pix without eating up their data allowance. But that is the extent of my dalliance.

It's strange how many people believe everything they read or see on social media. I have a friend who is a borderline hypochondriac who treats herself for conditions she thinks she has (without the benefit of a professional diagnosis) with the most extraordinary household items, many unfit for human consumption. She sprinkles her breakfast weeties with two household chemicals; both substances were recommended via posts from complete strangers on FB but are more often found in cockroach baits. When I expressed my dismay she reassured me that everything was ticketty-boo, but then had to stop eventually as the skin under her fingernails was starting to peel off. Kiddies, don't try this at home. Another friend who is heading toward being a full-blown conspiracy theorist (he's just short of wearing a foil hat) feeds his paranoia with misinformation disseminated by like-minded people on FB. When I pointed out to both that social media utilises algorithms that feed them news/un-news items and information based on what they read online and that not necessarily all of it is true, they scoff.

The danger lies in the fact that the more you read from people who hold the same views as you on social media, the more you can be tricked into thinking those views are sane or rational. Many times, they are not.

Just ask all those Donald Trump supporters.

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