Tag Archives: communication

Social Media as Magic Mirror

mirrormirrorI’ve been thinking so much about the whole social media universe lately. My thoughts are not all sweetness and light. In fact, I’m feeling pretty dark about social media these days. I think it is due for a shakeup!

Here is an example. Have you visited Wattpad.com? I just heard about it a couple weeks ago and decided to check it out. Wattpad is a platform that allows you to post your book or short story or other pieces of writing (read: fan fiction) from your profile. You can follow other writers. You can collect a library. You can create a reading list. It’s pretty cool. It’s also pretty young. In fact, Wattpad.com seems to be a huge collective of many, many young (ages 14-22 I’m guessing) writers, kids who are used to a dynamic of “following” and “following back” that is akin to a smile–something polite and nice to do to make the other person and yourself feel good, but not an actual indication that he or she is actually going to read your work.

Because, how many writers(bloggers/Tweeters/Instagramers/Pinners, etc.) can one person actually read/follow/interact with? Certainly not 700…or even 350 or 200!

I think it is the same with all social media, including Facebook and Instagram and the like. People may “like” you or “follow” you, but it MAY be only a feel-good,reciprocal thing with no real intention of visiting again, or a politeness thing, or maybe even a way of trying to entice you to visit their account in hopes they get one more tick on the counter. Or, less cynically, maybe they stumbled onto your account and liked what they saw enough to give you a “like” or a “follow,” but your posts then become so lost in the avalanche of notifications piling onto the erstwhile follower’s in-box or notification tab that he/she never stumbles back onto your page again.

In this way, your follower number on your social media account(s) becomes nothing more than a meaningless numeral, or at best a tally of notches on your belt. Certainly it is not an indicator of real readership.

I’m told (by young people) that this doesn’t bother them at all. This meaningless number is fine in a world of people who are interested only in self-expression. For them, social media is a magic mirror. The larger the number, the bigger the mirror, but it is still reflecting back only one image. The Self.

I post, therefore I am?

But what about actual communication/community? What about the real spread of ideas?

I’m wondering if the only way this will be sustainable will be people coming together (the way planets formed after the big bang) to create their own worlds within worlds, so to speak. Social circles. We’ve seen the big bang, the social media explosion. It has happened.

Perhaps now people will combine naturally into their smaller social media circles–communicating with each other, reading each other’s posts, commenting, adding to collective knowledge so that an individual piece becomes more of a springboard or topic sentence for the larger “work.” A collective piece of art. If this is how things end up, a blogger with 10,000 followers could not be considered more successful than one with 1000. In fact the one with 100 might be considered MORE successful, especially if those 100 actually read and comment on the work and vice versa. In fact, 100 might be too many.

How many blog posts do YOU read in one day? How many do you comment on? And do you read the comments of other followers?

I predict there will be a weeding out frenzy soon as we come to realize we are all just hanging our posts/work on a wall and gazing into the mirror 99% of the time. Or maybe I’m just getting too cynical.

And to that end, I’m going to do some housekeeping. It is time to officially pare down my “following” and “friends” and “likes” lists. If I’m not really and truly interested in investing my time in a social media site, I’m going to delete it. Please do the same here. I won’t take it personally. In fact, I’ll applaud you.

And to my real, constant readers out there…thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond in the little time you have in your day for such activities.

The Value of Silence

silence

Here is an odd idea for a blogger: silence.

I mean silence in the larger sense, a practice that includes not only verbal but also written communication.

Expression. Express yourself. Talk about your feelings. We are told this is the key to feeling empowered, understood, and self-actualized.

My friend, Laura, who is a Reiki practitioner and creator of her business Reiki Fusion, once told me that expressing yourself can be seen another way–like popping a boil. You don’t want to express yourself all over someone else.

Communication, however, is a two-way sporting event. Volley and serve. Listen and speak. Give and receive.

Lately, I’ve been expressing myself all over everything and everybody. Like I’m addicted to it. Like I have this (wrong) belief that if I somehow get my thoughts and ideas and opinions out there in a large enough volume, I will make a positive difference in the world. I’m beginning to see that perhaps a little opinion goes a long way.

Like salt. A pinch is good on your potatoes. A cup would be disaster.

It doesn’t help that I’m finally getting paid for producing words. Instead of using up my expression/communication energy, my job seems to be feeding it. So now I seek balance. I am trying, struggling really, to curb my addiction to voice. It is hard. I fail often. I remind myself to just stay quiet, to let the ideas and feelings stay inside my brain and heart or else find other, non-verbal outlets for releasing the pressure. Dancing. Meditating. Walking. Creating images. Still, the words come. Here I am, right now, producing words, words, words.

I am drawn to the idea of taking a vow of silence. I now see the value in such a commitment. A week of silence. Even two days. I long for a vacation from the sound of my own voice.

rumi

“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”
― Rumi