Layers of delight (and the joy of online social networks with my teens)

Layers of delight (and the joy of online social networks with my teens)

Ok, so I know there are plenty of aspects of online social networks that are problematic. Particularly for teens. But sometimes I reflect on ways in which online social networks, and our smartphones, afford layers of connection between myself and my three children (12, 14 and 17) which give me unmitigated joy and delight. Things are expressed that would never be said face to face. Experiences can be shared even when we are far apart. We can collaborate in novel and pleasurable ways. Here are just ten examples… Sharing special moments from afar – the time when my daughter allowed me to share her first experience of Glastonbury festival by sending me WhatsApp video clips of the moment when she met her favourite music artist Helping each other out – all the times when my daughter asks for my advice on her clothing purchases via Facetime from shop dressing rooms Bad humour– the atrocious comedy memes and GIFs via WhatsApp from my son Saying what can’t be said in person – my daughter congratulating me on passing my PhD viva via text message when she could only be tetchy to my face Liking my stuff – when my son hearts my Instagram posts and his friends (bizarrely) start following my account Keeping a close but surreptitious eye – my daughter blocking me on Facebook only to allow her BFF to friend me so that she can spy on my posts via her account Sharing the love – my daughter sending me heart emojis and telling me she loves me via WhatsApp when she will never say it to my...
I’m too old now to pretend to be something I’m not #TheProfileProject #12

I’m too old now to pretend to be something I’m not #TheProfileProject #12

Paul Taylor AKA @PaulBromford tells the story behind his Twitter profile picture: “In my early days on Twitter I kept the same avatar for a long time. I think because my profile was part of my ‘professional identity’ I played it safe and did one of those slightly cheesy and non-threatening smiley headshots. “I completely forget who it was, but someone messaged me and said that they loved my Twitter stream but my avatar looked like I was trying to sell them something! I was mortified at the time – as that kind of snake oil sales account is the exact opposite of how I wanted to be perceived. “Since then I’ve changed my avatar fairly regularly – depending on my mood and what’s important to me. I’m not too concerned about professionalism anymore – if my posts and tweets don’t speak for themselves I’m happy with that. I’m too old now to pretend to be something I’m not. “My current avatar was taken outside Angkor Wat in Cambodia at about 6 in the morning – it’s why I look slightly dishevelled. I love travelling and especially South East Asia. Most of the work I’m currently doing is around communities and empowering people to make change. I’m fascinated how some cultures – especially ones like Cambodia who’ve been to hell and back – harness the power of community to solve problems, often in the absence of paid ‘professionals’. “Next week though – it could be me with a robot.” You can find out more about #TheProfileProject here and connect on Twitter...
We do not communicate well with our younger generations #TheProfileProject #10

We do not communicate well with our younger generations #TheProfileProject #10

@FakeThom tells the story behind his Twitter profile picture: “My profile picture is a cartoon graphic representation of me to primarily accompany my YouTube channel, matching the channel’s artwork and house style. It was created by a friend William Leeks and kindly donated to my channel to help get it off the ground. The image depicts me in a white coat with a yellow stethoscope and blue hair, representing my real-life job as a children’s doctor in Scotland. Although I do not wear a white coat day-to-day, it helps add to the identity in the cartoon version of myself. “As a children’s doctor, I’m concerned we do not communicate well with our younger generations, who are light years ahead of us with how they access and consume information online. My vlog channel aims to deliver health education to the YouTube generation in an entertaining and informative way, with teenagers being the target audience. Currently my videos look mainly at mental health, but also include topics such as sleep. Future videos will expand into sex education and other health-related content that commonly affects adolescents. “A side project of the channel also uses Minecraft to deliver information to a younger audience. My profile picture will sometimes change to a blocky Minecraft version to promote this side of my output. The cartoon version of me you see in the profile picture will occasionally have changes in hair colour if I have recently dyed my hair, or will have a background colour change to hold interest. The bold and outlined nature of the Saved By The Bell-style drawing is eye-catching at thumbnail size so works well...
Me, myself, I #TheProfileProject #9

Me, myself, I #TheProfileProject #9

Anne Cooper tells the story behind her Twitter profile: “Even when I first started my Twitter journey my profile picture was one of me….. me, myself, I. (I just love this song by Joan Armatrading and the words are fab.) “I believe that on social media presenting oneself as a real person works best.  I get such a tremendous response to those blogs and posts that are about more than my ‘professional self’; I think people identify more with the whole view of me.  So decided that it was a real me they should see. “However, I do chose the best ones. Not photographs I hate but those that I think are flattering too. Ha! You caught me – I am vain too.  Perhaps a slightly varnished presentation of me! “When it was the year of my 50th birthday I did do a little experiment – I aged myself via my profile picture.  I started with the picture of me at my youngest and aged myself gradually over the year, ending with one of me at 50.  I loved doing it and it did create some interesting conversations but I think some people found it confusing – shape shifting.  I realised that a clear picture that was identifiable might be important so I have changed less frequently and have tried to maintain a real and realistic (if flattering) picture since then.  I want to be identifiable and real to people I talk to. “Me, myself, I – that’s it for me.” You can find out more about #TheProfileProject here and connect on Twitter...
“My profile works as a sort of filter” #TheProfileProject #7

“My profile works as a sort of filter” #TheProfileProject #7

@gopaldass AKA Abhay Adhikari tells the story behind his choice of Twitter profile pictures: “At the moment, my Twitter profile picture is of me cycling into the horizon, without a care in the world!  My account is a personal and professional space and my profile picture reflects this. It also serves as a personal reminder that I shouldn’t take myself too seriously and that I should take time to reflect on what others say. So much of social media is reactionary. “My picture changes quite often. Say, every couple of weeks. Every now and then I upload a profile picture that may indicate what I do for a living and where I live. For the most part, my profile picture is a reflection of how I am feeling and whether I want to actively connect with people at that point in time. By not giving it all away, I think my profile works as a sort of filter – engaging people who are curious, open minded and open to a chat. So far this approach as worked as I have met a lot of interesting people (in real life) via social media and this has allowed me to launch Digital Identity projects from Stockholm to Delhi!” You can find out more about #TheProfileProject here and connect on Twitter...