People are always banging on about the adverse effects of social media, and some of these effects are rumoured to lead to a sense of social exclusion. Personally, were I housebound, I rather think Facebook et al would be a pretty good at keeping me feeling included, but that may just be me.

The latest shock horror story came last week when researchers at Boston University claimed that Facebook in particular makes us more narrow minded, because we tend to hook up with groups who share our views, and it all becomes a bit of an echo chamber reinforcing what we already believe.

This is patently untrue at a macro level, because if it were true then trolling would be non-existent. But let’s look at it from a personal microviewpoint. Let’s take me.

I’m an atheist, as are some of my friends. My correspondent (and ex father in law) was a dean at St Alban’s Cathedral. Lots of others I know are Christians of varying degrees of devotion. I also know at least one Wiccan, a couple of Pagans, several Mormons, some with Jewish faith, at least one Hindu, and a couple of Moslems. I’ll talk to anybody. I’m on passing terms with a couple of JoHos. Name anybody else who can say that. I dare you. I doubledare you.

I’m a scientist by inclination, education, training, and experience. My friends contain a number of conspiracy theorists (including one who is convinced that the White House is orchestrating the bloodbath in Syria and Iraq), chemtrail believers, a whole slew of UFO nuts, Sasquatch enthusiasts…

Then there are the clean eaters. I have other friends who actually believe the twaddle about superfoods. Those who reckon that ginger or turmeric are more effective than chemotherapy for cancer. The latest missive from one of my fringe believers reckons frankincense is a viable anticancer agent. She’s also the one promulgating the White House connection to Daesh, and an ardent antivaxer. She’s a nice person but completely loopy, yet I still read her and correspond with her. Every now and then we actually agree, but it’s not often.

Not too surprisingly I know a lot of writers, and some of them work in genres I won’t touch with a bargepole. I work in genres some of them won’t touch either, but we’re still mates.

Waitresses, bar staff, restaurateurs, people in advertising, people who work in shipping, shop assistants, bell captains, drivers, financiers, and layabouts like myself all fall under my umbrella. And we often fight like cat and dog.

If you convince me I’m wrong, I’ll fess up and admit it. In order to do that, I’m going to have to listen to an opinion that differs from mine. There are lots of them I can assure you. But I should warn my friends who are into firearms that you’ll never convince me open carry is a damned good idea. Just saying.

Advertisements