Social Media? What The....

Social media, just what the heck is that? In the course of increasing my understanding of the blogging world as part of marketing our whole freelance gig, I kept coming across references to "social media." Social media this, and social media that, social media, social media, social media....ahhhhhhhhhhh! Overload! The voices in my head kept repeating it over and over, first as a whisper and then as a chant cannibals might use when dancing in a circle around a large boiling pot containing a photographer from National Geographic. Despite my best efforts with the bluntest of screwdrivers I could not remove the noise.

Pretty soon I started throwing the term around in my everyday vocabulary. I'd say things like, "Hey, I'm going to go 'get down' with some social media for a few hours" or, "Did you see that social media thing the other day - what a corker!" Mothers pulled their children closer, as they awkwardly excused themselves from my presense, giving the impression maybe I wasn't using it correctly. Was it a noun, a verb possibly, or a even a preposition? Danged if I knew.

I tried to apply logic to my confussion by using it's literal terminology - "social" meaning to interact with others, and "media" communication on a mass scale through various mediums - and then tracing it's application through history. I started with the Bible and figured social media was irrelevant with Adam and Eve, since it was just the two of them with God acting as the web-server (making the serpent a hacker and the apple a virus which then required Adam and Eve to change their passwords, and download anti-virus programs from Yahwey-soft in the anticipation of Jesus Christ Vista to arrive). Eventually, there was probably a need when Noah built the ark and the world was flooded. Word-of-mouth social media probably got people together to ridicule Noah, but who was laughing when the rains came and they all drowned because someone didn't choose the "Digg It" feature on a blog post by God announcing the shutting of the ark's door. This lead to the idea of the Apostles all having MySpace and Facebook pages so they could post updates and blogs (rather than letters) for members of the early church. The Romans and Pharisees then reported them for "violations of the terms and conditions of use," and the Apsotles' pages were shut down and fed to lions. I dismissed this idea as a ridiculous notion, since the Apostles would have set their security settings to allow only members to see their page and require the author's approval for every comments posted.

Moving on to the Middle Ages, "social media" probably included the use of runners to carry messages among fuedal lords. Of course, if the Lord didn't like the information delivered they always had the option of killing the poor bloke who had just traveled over miles of rugged mountains and dark forests, braving all manner of dangers in order to deliver news that he probably never even read. It occured to me that killing those messengers was likely an early form of deleting SPAM, and in a modern context this would be the equivalent of receiving an unpleasant email and then bashing your laptop into pieces with an iron mace or beheading axe. Although a dangerous means of social communication, it probably was still faster than a dial up connection.

Eventually, time moved on, employing an organized mailing system with letters linking people over great distances. Then things really sped up with faster mail service, the telephone and mobile cell phones, soon computers brought email, personal web pages, and blogging, leading to the current use of "social media." I should also mention that somewhere in this timeline a version of social media emerged in the form of gossipy old women using their status as life long church parishioners to pass and recieve information in a sanctified manner.

After my exercise in logic, I felt I had a solid enough grasp to put the concept of social media into practice. I then explained to my fiancee Ashley that I wanted to employ the "strategury" of using social media as a means of gaining a wider readership for my writing. With a hint of doubt in her face she looked at me for a second. "Uh huh. Okay, so tell me, what types of social media were you thinking of using?"

The directness of the question plus the fact that I hadn't the first clue as to what "types" of social media actually existed, prevented me from answering right away. I squinted my eyes attempting to convey the impression of deliberating from among several good choices, and then I responded with my selections, one of which was to pay members of the high school track team to act as runners, with the other choice being to employ several elderly women I've noticed on Sundays, chatting on the front steps of the church across the street.

After pounding her fist and grasping for air in a fit of laughter, Ashley recovered sufficiently enough to set me straight with an explaination of various forms of social media in laymen terms. I didn't understand a word of it, but she then went on to set up features on my blog allowing readers to click a button at the end of each entry allowing them to choose from among several forms of social media that can rate the content of the blog or pass it on for others to read (hint hint - but only the ones you think of as good. I don't want to look like I'm prompting anyone).

Eventually, I did go to Wikepedia to find an official definition of the term "social media," and this is what I found:

Social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words and pictures. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning, as people share their stories, and understandings.

The defintion really didn't help me that much, but I wanted to cover my bases before someone posted a comment to the effect of, "Hey Dummy, look it up on Wikepedia." Those kinds of responses make me feel inadequate as a writer so I just do my best to fake it whenever necessary.

As I found out later, it appears that I have been participating in some of the forms of social media all along. For example, I had a MySpace page for several years affording me the chance to highlight my more immature attributes on a global scale (don't look me up). In addition to MySpace and to counter my childish persona, I was "highly encouraged" to create a Facebook account, which would be sure to make me appear more grown-up and responsible. Of course, being image conscious I caved instantly and I now have a page there too. In and of themselves, having these sites isn't too bad. With each I've discovered something that instantly makes me feel better about who I am. With MySpace, I can read other member pages and gain great satisfaction in the realization there are an infinite number of people with greater insecurity issues than myself, and there's no hope of any medication legally approved by the FDA to help them. Facebook, however, is touted as being more serious-minded and socially responsible which allows me to join groups fighting child illiteracy, solving world hunger, and funding political campaigns with an uncomplicated point and click action. With no requirements of monetary contribution or a few hours of sweat, I can tout my compassionate spirit to others as Facebook posts an announcement to its members that I have joined a certain group and I am now actively part of the crusade against the unethical treatment of wharf rats. The site makes you feel that somehow the more groups you join, the more God will love you.

Recently, though, I've discovered Facebook and MySpace aren't enough. I've since had to join other social media services, mainly because I have friends on this page and that one, but not on the one I'm on. This kind of logic can become like wearing a blindfold while navigating your way through a rabbit hole. It's a huge waste of time. I've noticed Time Magazine published an article covering the stress created by these social sites. I can easily see their point. When you spend an entire morning checking the seventeen different sites you are a part of to see who wrote you back, who sent you a message, who posted a new blog, who accepted/rejected your friend request or who asked you to be there friend, you need a nap just so you have the energy to do it again. Friend requests alone are a hazard giving you the shakes as you try to avoid stalkerish old-sweethearts just released on parole, or burst your blood vessels in the anticipation that the someone you are deathly afraid of talking to in-person will add you to their friend list so you can send them obnoxiously, glittery clip art that that induces a seizure with it wishes for a "Happy Ground Hog Day!" And, I'm not even going to speculate on the stress-related fatalities inflicted by the feature these sites offer allowing one to rank the members of their friend in order of closest to stalkerish.

Quite frankly, it's worn me out, and given my proximity to being 40 years old, I can't afford to loose the energy required to see 42. As I shared these laments with Ashley the other evening, I didn't realize how tired and confused participating in so many social media outlets had made me as they all started running together in my head. "I think I'm going to go to bed now," I said yawning, "I just need to check one more time for any new updates on MyFACE." Laughing, she told me that I'd find a new zit on the right side of my forhead. I didn't get it.

PS. As a writer and an artists, it's a psychologically proven fact that I require the validation of others for my survival (not really. Just kidding, yes I do). Now, with the help social media, that validation is only one simple click away. No longer do you have to hassle with the awkwardness of leaving a comment on a blog or waste valuable time by calling someone to endorse a your loved-one's writing. Just click, choose, click and you've instantly validated me. It's like sending love in a bottle. Do it today, before my rent's due.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Ads Section

Ads Section

  © Blogger templates Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP