Pitfalls of social media become apparent on opinion pages

SOCIAL media, to me, is a way to keep up with what my friends and family are up to. Obviously that's not the way others see it.

Take a couple of online opinion pages about Gladstone.

I can't for the life of me understand why people need to be so out there and public about their thoughts and opinions.

Nor can I understand how people think it's okay to use incredibly bad language.

I'm forever amazed just how much people wear their hearts on their sleeves and tell the world (yes, the world, virtually) what's getting their goat at a given time.

I believe I'm a fairly private person, so I make certain that my inner feelings are just that.

But this weekend just gone I have watched with interest the comments relating to a picture story and headline in The Observer on Friday, and I'm amazed at some of the comments.

Sure, the headline may have been a bit too risqué for some, but I would suggest that a vast number of the negative comments were quite scary.

For example there was a comment from one person suggesting that the writer of the story (she was not the writer of the headline) should get a slap around the head.

Violence, in my mind, is something I detest and I find it scary that someone would consider it okay to promote violence in that forum.

I'll be the first to say sorry to people who may have been offended by the headline on the story - but I reckon without that headline it would not have received anywhere as much attention. There was no offence intended.

Another comment interested me, suggesting that newspapers were not meant to be funny - they were meant to tell us what's going on, or words to that effect.

Newspapers, in my mind, are there to entertain - which includes the use of humour - and to inform. They are there to lead community debate.

The last thing I would want people to think about The Observer is that it's dull and boring.

If that is the general perception we need to change what we do - introduce more thought-provoking stories, pictures and headlines.

We use social media for a wide range of reasons and often we invite comment on social media so that we can tell the wider community.

Social media is a great tool, provided it's used in a measured way.