The growth of social media has radically changed our whole way of life over recent years.

Increasing numbers of people seem to be living their lives in that virtual reality world.

It is amazing the number of times people seem to be chronicling their lives or saying something on an open forum that maybe should be being said in private to a loved one.

Sometimes in the social media sphere there are reflections of loneliness in the real world. Others see the chance to showcase themselves.

There are also great shows of joy, happiness and sharing.

Opportunities abound to easily learn more about the world around us. The other side is the possibility to shut oneself off in a silo of like minded individuals.

Anything contrary to the accepted view can then be dismissed as fake.

Some of the hostility generated on social media forums is truly incredible to behold. Many seem to think that because they are contributing to a virtual reality world, the normal societal niceties don't apply.

Things would be much more civil on social media channels if people considered whether they would say what they write if the recipient was physically sitting opposite them in the room.

Some of the local hubs developed are very useful for gaining information.They can though also be sources for amplifying disinformation. Subjects like crime can be hyped way beyond the reality of what is going on on the streets. This can frighten people, which is not helpful.

There is also the danger that these sort of forums can become the personal unaccountable fiefdoms of one or two people, which again is not conducive to the public good.

Overall the social media world is in its relative infancy. It has opened up a whole new dimension to life, much of it very positive. But care needs to be taken to remember that those contributing are real people with sensitive feelings. Social media should not become an arena for petty point scoring, aggression and abuse.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See