I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it; the eponymous Social Paranoia allegedly affects 75 percent of Brits. It’s a huge issue for almost anyone who uses social media, including parents and educators – and me! I see the fear creep into most parenting and teaching groups, on a regular basis – what’s the right balance to strike between sharing one’s education journey and safeguarding one’s students? At what point does one’s cute and quirky online presence become one’s career albatross or – worse – the means by which an angry acquaintance or troll can start with a keyboard and end with a real life confrontation? This guidebook aims to cover all the common sense points – plus, a few surprises.

Social Paranoia by Dane Cobain

Social Paranoia – who’s out to get you? Stay safe, stay connected!

What is Social Paranoia?

Essentially, a combination of misinterpretation, mistrust and the classic FOMO can leave you open to major social vulnerability. Modern culture has a very throwaway attitude to social media and it’s easy to forget the longevity of online actions. I get that it’s important to journal your excursions, and emote your tweets. I know you want to IG that cute image you weren’t expecting to capture. However, author Dane Cobain reminds us: do you have to, and does it have to be immediate? He illustrates a wide range of pitfalls through case studies and pop culture. Cobain explains how to use social media effectively, and how to minimise risk exposure. He also introduces the simple but versatile Grandma Rule.

Some of the case study highlights, for me, included the infamous annual Ed Balls Day, the virality of Psy’s funtastic Gangnam Style music video, and – if I must be honest – the mention of “fetch” in a definition of Facebook stalking. (“Stop trying to make fetch happen.” Mean Girls is such a great movie; Rachel McAdams kills it as Regina George!) Even if you’re reading solely for entertainment value, and your SM skills and awareness are on point, there’s still fun to be had down memory lane.

Dear Reader: You Need This

Social Paranoia is a slim volume at 130 pages long but it is very well written. The language is accessible and contemporary, and the neatly defined chapters are peppered with interesting and relevant case studies. This guidebook is for every teacher who has anxiously asked people to check if their SM profile is sufficiently locked down, every parent who has worried about whether they’re risking their children’s privacy in pursuit of their own social connections, and every professional who has been racked with doubts over their SM interactions. I feel that Cobain has drawn the right balance between pop culture, explanatory notes, and readability – without going for information overload or dumbing down the data. This is a book that you will want to work cover to cover – more than once. Ideally suited as a quick and enjoyable read, in one session or over multiple coffee breaks.

Social Paranoia infographic book summary.


Dane Cobain is a British author, poet, and musician. He has published 5 books and runs a book blog, Social Book Shelves. I received a complimentary copy of Social Paranoia for review purposes, however, all opinions are my own. Social Paranoia is currently available from Amazon* or direct from the author. At the time of writing, the price was 7.57 to 8.49 GBP.