Sunday 17 November 2019

My Anti - Social Presence

After a foray into job-hunting, Sophie White was left questioning her luddite leanings and lack of 'followers'

Sophie White
Sophie White

I began the hunt for a job in the place one used to look for jobs - the newspaper - until a kind friend pointed out that only nurses and teachers find work in the newspaper anymore. #jobfairy is where it's at, I was told. So I hit Twitter, to do the 2015 equivalent of pounding the pavements.

All over #jobfairy there seemed to be loads of opportunities going, but once I had ruled out all the ones whose job titles I didn't understand, and the ones that were internships masquerading as jobs, I was left with very slim pickings. So much so that I did, at one point, apply for an internship - reasoning that if I didn't work for free at some point, I wouldn't be taking part in my generation's collective experience.

Of course, the internship interview went even worse than the job interviews. I was basically told that I didn't have enough experience writing short-form. I realised that by short-form, he actually meant 140 characters - aka a tweet. I tried to argue that headlines and standfirsts were the tweets of the print age, but he was having none of it. I never heard from him again.

So demoralising - even the unpaid jobs didn't want me. In each interview, I was asked about my salary expectations, which, with every passing week, were being systematically ground down so that, by that last interview, I felt like screaming: "I'm cheap, I'm so cheap, I'll pay you to just let me come here every day." An unnerving pattern also began to emerge of what exactly my deficiency seemed to be: a lack of social-media presence.

I have, thus far, maintained what I believed to be a healthy suspicion of advances in technology.

I got Spotify about a month ago and was tentatively enjoying it, until I realised that my husband could see whatever guilty-pleasure tunes I was indulging in - usually Katy Perry - and would then mock me accordingly. Then, after seeing hackers spying on the characters on The Good Wife through the web cameras on their laptops, I became weirdly scared of hackers activating the webcam and laughing at me through my computer.

When one interviewer asked me what my social-media presence looked like, my mind flashed on to the picture of me and a kangaroo that I use for my Twitter profile, so that my exactly 32 followers can identify me. "I have followers in the double digits," I replied, trying to put a positive spin on it.

The main reason I've never felt comfortable engaging with social media is that I don't know what persona I should be plugging.

These days, everyone seems a bit too comfortable with the concept of 'Brand Me'. As a complete narcissist, I should totally be on board with the social media thing, but really, it all just gives me the heebie-jeebies. Also, I have so few thoughts of interest that I need to jealously guard them, storing them up for social interactions and articles in this paper.

Also, trial by social media has become almost de rigueur, with tweeters starting virtual witch-hunts over every single opinion expressed that offends their delicate sensibilities. One false Facebook move and you could find yourself staring down the barrel of anonymous internet outrage, and possibly facing a public shaming that could have a knock-on effect in the real world.

Just a few weeks ago, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames tweeted that after passing same-sex marriage, some US states banned Mother's Day and Father's Day, and she used the hashtag #pcgonemad. Naturally, the internet had quite the shit-fit.

Fact is, people on the internet are an incredibly sensitive lot. If I got into the Twitter thing, I just know I'd post some regrettable, but clearly not-intended-to-be-taken-seriously comment and attract the ire of the ever-outraged online dwellers - who seem to wilfully misinterpret everything.

Prospective employers should be relieved that I'm not actively engaged in social media, as I would undoubtedly be a liability.

Sunday Independent

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