Social media is a mystery to me

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For some reason I don’t really do what is now universally known as social media. That’s Facebook and Twitter and various other cyber-space methods of communicating with people.

I do have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I think – think – I am hooked up to something called Linkedin. And I do, a couple of times a day, take a peek at Facebook and Twitter and discover that Kenny has parked his lorry at some transport cafe for the night and that Helen has dropped the kids of at school and is off for a walk. Oh, and Fiona has posted a photo of her roast beef lunch at a wonderful wee restaurant she has just discovered and is recommending it to all and sundry.

I don’t have a computer at home. I used to have one that I inherited from my wee sister when she upgraded from a steam-driven version to one powered by electricity. That gave up the ghost and has joined a great variety of not-working or surplus items in my over crowded loft. I’ll clamber up soon and rescue my Christmas tree lights, but once again turn a blind eye to the great gathering of items from my past.

My electronic wizardry is almost solely confined to my work computer and mobile phone. Mobiles actually, because I have two – my own trusty Blackberry and a complicated device provided by my bosses. I confess that I do not get the best out of either.

Call me old-fashioned. Call me a fuddy-duddy. But to me, phones are for phoning and receiving calls from people. I can do voicemail, text and the odd email from my devices. But I have never knowingly downloaded an app. I say knowingly, because there a few things on my phones that I can’t explain. I have taken a few pictures and a shaky video of my garden shed, which I proudly erected all on my own. I took another picture when it fell down.

But I return to Facebook and Twitter. I have been in the world of journalism for a couple of years just short of half a century. In journalism the word – written or broadcast – can get a journalist into a lot of bother. Sometimes costly bother. That’s why we have rules, regulations, guidelines and laws that bind us. They protect us and they protect the public.

Social media is a nightmare.

There are ample examples of comments appearing that would have had a journalist and their editor in court. Rape victims identified and parents have learned of the death of their son or daughter.

That’s why I welcome the news last week that the Lord Advocate and his prosecutors will take a hard line on those who abuse social media. It is here and it is here to stay. But it must be used responsibly.