UpFront 02/22

Talking with the poet, Luke Wright, last week (page 38) I was struck by his newfound irritation with social media. Originally an early adopter, he now hates it, describing it as a shouting match. However, he feels compelled to use it to help promote his work. And he’s not alone. Businesses and individuals all across the world have been scrambling for years to find the best way to present their digital offering on a range of different platforms. But as Tarzan might have said: ‘It’s a jungle out there.’ Not only are there too many platforms to deal with, figuring out how to avoid being roasted or shamed makes it a difficult place for brands to be comfortable. We now know that digital skulduggery can be dished out on an industrial scale. Which may be why at a recent conference Juan Señor, president of digital advancement company ‘Innovation Media Consultancy’, urged businesses to distance themselves from social media. He cited the credibility damage caused by association with platforms on which toxic behaviour is widespread and named some big brands that have reverted to traditional media. He also highlighted the irony of how the rise of fake news is helping to save proper journalism, as people increasingly turn to more trustworthy sources. There are many other areas where digital advances haven’t really helped. In his interview with Seth Dellow, (page 16) David Tucker, the former Director of Lyme Regis Museum pointed out that there are some things such as museums where people benefit from being able to view real things. Seeing with our own eyes can’t be underrated. But, like all discussions on digital advances, there is a need for balance. Lockdowns have taught us that there is a place for everything. The advantages of digital communication are enormous. Easy connection with friends; being able to chat with loved ones abroad; the ability to find like-minded people who share hobbies, and the educational and advice opportunities delivered by groups and initiatives in every field. Perhaps moderated platforms are an answer, as long as we are savvy enough to know what to avoid and prepared to take a pinch of salt now and then. Unless, of course, it’s a bad hair day on Instagram or Facebook. Perish the thought.