It's a holiday in Mancunia, where the people dress in black ...
Behind the blank anonymity of your connected device, you can create a character for yourself that is closer to how you wish to be than how you actually are. It's very easy to make up for your known deficiencies by being bold and funny, or flirty, or coy or whatever: you can give yourself the attributes you desire. This principle began in online role-playing alternative universes such as Second Life. Now it applies to your 'real' self, or at least how you wish your 'real' self to be perceived.
Social media thrives on social validation. You can seek this validation in a number of ways. One is by volume - the number of followers or friends you acquire, regardless of their interest or interaction with your actual life. Another is in the type of friend/follower you acquire: they may be more like the real friends you wish you had than the ones you actually have.
So social media is a bluffer's paradise, right?
Well, here's the thing. If you're using social media properly, the real world is much closer over the horizon than you think. You're very likely to have befriended people you know in the real world, and they will immediately pick up on any crap or fantasy and pull you on it. Everyone needs at least one friend like this, by the way. One of the delicious ironies of a global social network is that the people you befriend may be closer that you think - in your town or even a short 'plane ride away.
Which brings me to my own Rubicon. I have been chatting on Twitter to Prestwich tweeps @CardinalPhink and @JelloPuss via an introduction from a mutual friend for about a year. We quickly discovered a shared love of punk rock, specifically Buzzcocks to whom @JelloPuss has a very direct personal connection. When Buzzcocks announce a landmark show (Back to Front, Manchester Apollo - to be reviewed separately), I know I will be going - as a fan and as admin of the official Buzzcocks fansite SecretPublic.com. In fact, there is no way I won't be attending ... In an odd twist of fate - or maybe it's destino - @CardinalPhink's favourite band The Damned are playing in Belfast the following night.
A whirlwind of punk rock bonhomie is unleashed. Invitations are extended. I'm going to Prestwich to stay with people I only know from Twitter and have never met ...
In the next instalment: I buy a bottle of whiskey and encounter a gift basket and some cats.
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