One day over Christmas, when the family had gone out to buy a tree or walk off dinner or whatever seasonal activity they’d embarked upon, I sat down to watch a movie.
The film was “You’ve Got Mail” and would be described today as old – but I remember going to see it in the cinema with high hopes that it was going to be as hilarious and seminal as “When Harry met Sally” – it wasn’t.
What this film is though – now – is a period piece about the early days of e-mail, where people met in chat rooms and carried on their anonymous friendships via dial-up connection e-mail. That whir and fizz as the internet connected will resonate with only some of us now – it was a tiny dot in the history of computer-based communication – a moment in time.
When the film came out we were hungry for media that reflected the new realities of the internet age and for Hollywood that meant stories about meeting partners online. ( I did in fact cement my own friendship with my future husband via a BBC internal messaging system very like msn messenger today.)
Now we have movies like “The Social Network” to give us a history lesson but I wonder how well Twitter fares on-screen? I kept my eyes open over the holidays and came up with a couple of mentions on TV which reflected a rather one-sided view of the social media revolution.
First up was Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe Review of the year which included a rant about trying to tweet along to Question Time. I don’t go in for tweet alongs personally but my husband quite often reads out funny quips during X Factor or The Apprentice and I think it adds to the enjoyment. Here we were invited to deride the tweeter as a mindless idiot who trumped his brain farts into the twittersphere only to lose the thread of the onscreen argument completely, leading to a very unsatisfactory viewing experience for all.
If you subscribe to the idea that social media makes an inane and impatient society even more so, then there is your proof. But it is not my experience.
Then there was Ab Fab which did make me laugh (just the once) with the implication that the art of PR is dead now that all you have to do is type – “shall we send out a press release, have a press conference, launch a poster campaign, book some ads – or shall we just tweet it darling?” – I paraphrase.
The fact of the matter is that using social media may look like instant gratification, but if you are going to get anywhere in the world of PR or even in enjoyment, you have to keep at it. You build up followers slowly – it takes a long time to nurture new relationships and if all you want is funny comments then you do actually have to follow people who make them.
You get out what you put in.
So, if anyone sees any interesting portrayals of social media on screen do let me know because I am collecting.