Tag Archives: social media

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.

What Debate? We Had An Earthquake!

Dear Reader:

Shaken…not stirred

Shaken, Not Stirred

While the rest of the country focused on the presidential town-hall debate last Tuesday night, Mainers were abuzz with excitement on an entirely different topic–a 4.0 magnitude earthquake that hit a few miles from Lake Arrowhead around 7 pm Tuesday evening. Lake Arrowhead is less than a quarter mile from my house, and the funny thing is, Lake Arrowhead is not a municipality…it is a literal lake. Lake Arrowhead Community is a homeowner’s association, however, so you could call it a quasi-municipality, and for a day or two we were ON THE MEDIA MAP.

I was bopping around on Facebook when the quake hit. The house shook, and a blast of sound like an explosion had me bolting out of my office share and down the stairs to the first floor to check on Dear Daughter and my dog, Delilah, who only barked once (unlike when she sees a squirrel outside and throws a full-on intruder alert). Like many, I thought maybe the furnace blew up…or the roof was caving in because a pine tree fell on it. As the house continued to shimmy like Mother Nature bellydancing, I realized it was an earthquake. I bounded back upstairs to post on my Facebook page the following elegant rhetoric:

“Holy crap did we just have an earthquake?”

I wasn’t the only one. Facebook posts surfaced on the screen like bass during a insect hatch on Lake Arrowhead. Within minutes my Facebook feed was all “earthquake.”

This is the real story, I think.

Yes, we had an earthquake. It was a big one by Maine standards; however, it was the speed of social media response (could we call it “reporting” even?) that illustrates how much society has changed. Twenty minutes after my Facebook post, the first reporting by the online news sites trickled in. Trickled? That is how we describe news reporting a mere twenty minutes after an event? Crazy, but true.

Here is one example of the viral nature of social media. A spoofy Facebook page called ISurvivedThe101612Earthquake gathered over 84,000 “likes” in a mere fifteen hours after the quake. 84K! We are living in a New Media Age. News is immediately reported and transmitted and shared and “liked” and “tweeted,” and we expect nothing less than that immediacy. We are all in the loop all the time. The fault lines have shifted. We, all of us, ARE the media circa 2012.

So, almost a week later, the frenzy has passed, the buzz had quieted, and nobody talks about the earthquake much. Guess it’s old news now, but we sure did have fun here for a couple of hours . . . Outside the Box.