The dangers of social media have been highlighted by any number of recent items in the news. And as usual, there are plenty of people ready to blame someone, anyone, for what happens. The government should do more. The platform companies should produce more effective algorithms to filter out the grooming, the bullying, the abuse. It’s the schools. It’s parents.
New technologies have always produced their abusers as well as their users. Consequences are not always thought through or even imagined. People who are afraid of change have always been prepared to exaggerate what awful things will happen if you have cars, or railways or travel faster than sound. Those who embrace change don’t always take enough care to protect themselves and others from the dangers.
One of the problems with very rapid change, the kind of change we see in the world of digital communication, is that our common and moral sense sometimes takes time to catch up. Teenagers post a saucy photo of themselves, click the button and just haven’t thought it through that this will now go out to the world with all the potential for embarrassment and worse.
But there is something currently happening in one area of technological advance that is very interesting. While I am well behind when it comes to streaming the latest pop song I did get rid of my old tapes and replace them with CDs and I have gone so far as to download specific tracks both of popular and classical music. I’m almost ‘with it.’ But now I find that I should have kept all my old vinyl records. Technology has gone into reverse! The old turntable, amplifier and speakers hiding in a corner of my study gathering dust could be worth something after all. The music world is enjoying ‘retro’.
My daughter suggested the other day that perhaps the same will happen with social media – that it will decline and the older ‘face to face’ communication make a return. But I wonder. It would take more than a move to the ‘retro’. It would mean considerable changes in our social activity and social patterns. As a society, we are more’ instant’, more individualistic, less willing to take time in our relationships, more anxious about being liked – and the social media feed this.
Changes too in the world of publishing. More online. E-books. Volumes of encyclopedias have given way to Wikipedia. With an iPad, you have whole libraries available without moving from your seat. Bookshops have closed, not least Christian bookshops. But I’d like to bet that just as vinyl has had a resurgence (at least for the time being) so too will good old paper books. In the meantime, publishers have to look for the signs of the times, keep up, even try to get ahead of the latest trend. And Kevin Mayhew Ltd is no different.
Written by John Cox 2018