In 1985, I was filled with excitement when I first discovered the benefits of the brick mobile phone
As an early adopter, I vividly remember sitting in a pub, taking a phone call, and realising that this could be the answer to working remotely. The idea of running my office from a charming old Cotswold hostelry seemed like utter bliss. Not WFH more WFTP. However, this dream scenario soon diminished as the hidden burden of mobile devices revealed itself.
Lugging around the giant brick mobile phone took a toll on my back, leading to a series of expensive visits to the osteopath. It became apparent that the convenience offered by this device had Faustian consequences beyond its initial allure. This encounter with the brick mobile phone became a harbinger of what was to come as technology advanced. The advent of the mobile phone destroyed our ability to focus, turning it into a tool that invades our personal space 24/7. Far from being a tool of efficient grace, it became a relentless, malignant presence that eradicated the concept of an “off switch”.
As we enter the second age of social media, we face yet another channel to fill, monitor, and worry about, especially in the realm of public relations. Early indications suggest that Threads might be the “Twitter killer,” but it’s still too early to grasp its impact, much like vaping or AI fully. The frog in the pot rarely notices the temperature increase. The supposed impact of communications on Threads will undoubtedly become another metric in the almighty evaluation matrix that increasingly governs our industry, but will it be a rich resource or a means to capture mass attention? Or will it be voodoo to confuse clients? Will it become just another niche platform for fringe voices?
Today, as I witness the birth of Threads, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of trepidation. Human nature, unfortunately, tends to revert to using such channels to spew negativity and create discord. History has shown that propaganda merchants understood the power of the herd, the crowd, and the masses. Yet humanity must learn from its mistakes, continuously moving forward and reverting to its inherent nature.
It is crucial for public relations professionals to navigate these hidden dangers in the age of social media. We must be aware of the potential for misinformation, manipulation, and the amplification of negativity. While these challenges exist, it is also an opportunity for us to shape the narrative, provide authentic and meaningful content, and foster positive engagement.
So, as we embrace the new era of social media, let us approach it with caution and vigilance. Let us learn from the past and strive to use these platforms as tools for constructive communication and connection rather than succumbing to their hidden dangers. The responsibility lies with us to create a digital landscape that promotes understanding, empathy, and progress.