Complaints about social media sites have been growing, their lack of control over the "fake news" the hijacking and flooding of foreign bots and people paid to disrupt campaigns and elections etc. There have been articles upon articles written about Twitter and harassment. The trolls and the bots are ever present.
In this current climate of covid 19 lockdown the sheer volume of fake news, scaremongering and the rise of curtain twitching cyber vigilantes has grown to epic proportions across almost all social media platforms.
Its got to the point now that I am spending a disproportionate amount of my time blocking pages and indeed people on my own friends list, and I'm not the only one to notice this, one by one friends are "taking a break from Facebook for their mental health". Yes social media claims to give you control over who and what you see - but the reality is that those controls are not just well hidden from casual users but they require you to jump through several hoops and choose different settings for different groups of users and to remember when you do post something which group can or cannot see it and change the permissions accordingly.
The other thing Facebook has done is to remove the ability for most people to have a bit of anonymity that forums have always offered, critics argue that anonymity means people can hide behind a screen name and choose to be horrible or nasty without fear of consequence - and theres a degree of truth to that, however there are plenty of "fake accounts" on Facebook and Twitter and any internet troll worthy of the name knows full well how to create those accounts and get themselves onto peoples friends lists.
Anonymity can be liberating; when your social media account is made up of people who know you, it can lead to a degree of self censorship, or a reluctance to post what you are really thinking or feeling, either because we don't want everyone knowing things about us, or we fear being judged or thought of differently, or we may be protecting ourselves or others. For some rather than social media increasing connectivity to others it can actually feel more isolating and disconnecting.
Forums however have admins and moderators that are "visible" they are part of that forum community, they aren't just some faceless algorithm or a large corporate entity who turns a blind eye to poor behaviour if it generates income.
Forums are much better suited for richer and more meaningful discussions that don't comprise solely of memes or retweeted "words of wisdom" and you can always go back and find what you are looking for.
A forum is more like a clubhouse filled with people who share our particular interest in something, in the case of cavamh that interest is Mental Health the people who will join us and participate will do so because they share our interest, whether that is because of personal lived experience, or as a carer, family member, friend, or service provider.
Forums become communities, they can provide support and information, share in the good times and the bad, and gather feedback on the services and groups that we interact with.
We also intend to have fun! There are games to play, places to hang out and chat, links to interesting websites and much much more.
Social Isolation really doesn't have to be isolating.