Why I Love Social Media

WHEN I STARTED BLOGGING IN the prehistoric era 2008, I posted almost daily. I had so much I wanted to say, and to preserve. Initially, I wrote because I wanted to capture some of my favorite anecdotes for my kids to read someday. But as I wrote, a small and mildly disturbed following built up, and people started commenting. The feedback was exciting! It led me to comment on my commenters' blogs, and thus I connected with people, virtually at first, then I met some of them "IRL" (in real life, as we say). In fact, today I count some of them among my best pals.

Years passed. Life happened. I blogged less. (So did lots of people.) During this time, Facebook surged in popularity. My online connecting gradually migrated from the blogosphere to Facebook, almost exclusively. I have a love-hate thing with Twitter, I have a Tumblr but I don't think I'm doing it right… I post the occasional photo on Instagram, but I'm on Facebook a lot.  I admit, I like the instant gratification the comments provide. It's more immediate than what I experienced when I was a frequent blogger, and I connect with far more people through Facebook than I ever did through this blog.

Lately, I'm reading lots of things about how social media in general is ruining society. It's making us rude. It's inhibiting our ability to really connect, on a human level, with other humans. It turns us into cyber-road-ragers, bullies from behind our tiny screens. And I do believe grains of truth exist here.

BUT: I also think there is much good to be harnessed in social media. Several recent events come to mind.

First, my 25th (!) college reunion. (I still can't believe it's been that many years.) I have maintained contact with a handful of classmates from Dickinson College's esteemed class of '89, and because of our Facebook connections, when we reunited in June, it was as if we picked up without missing a beat. We already knew what each other looked like. We didn't have to go through the tedious exchange of minutiae (where do you live, are you married, how many kids, what do you do, are your parents still alive…). We already had things to talk about. I had the good fortune become reacquainted with several classmates. We've continued our conversations via Facebook, and while we might not see each other again until 2019 (gulp!), we'll be up to speed when we meet next.

Second, there was the informal high school gathering in July. Some of us who graduated in the 1980s met up for a mini-reunion. It was hosted by a classmate I have not seen since I left town in 1985, but with whom I've resumed contact and have had regular exchanges through Facebook. It didin't feel like we hadn't seen each other for 29 years! It was as if we'd seen each other just last week. And again, I came away with a few new connections with whom I look forward to connecting, even if it's only virtual for the next few years.

Third, The sad news of a former boss's untimely death came my way last week via Facebook, and I used Facebook to spread the news. While you wouldn't want to find out about the death of a close relative through social media, I was able to efficiently reach a number of former coworkers from the 1990s through Facebook. And when we met up at the viewing, it was nice to see them all, despite the sad circumstances of our coming together.

Fourth, we are currently trying to harness the power of social media to help locate our neighbor, John Rogers, who has been missing since August 21. There's no better, more efficient way to reach lots of people. It's one of many tactics being employed by Team Rogers, of course. Please, spread the word! There's a Facebook Group now – look for "Find John Rogers." And you can follow @FindJohnRogers on Twitter, too. I believe we need to get this in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Facebook is like a mini reunion. You celebrate milestones. You commiserate. Sympathize. Giggle. You share information. You crowdsource. Share recipes. You maintain connections. I just have to believe those connections MATTER. 

Of course, things can get complicated when exes / coworkers / your own kids are your Facebook connections. And, there are users who are abusers. They tear down; they cyber-bully; they brag; they one-up. So block them, or unfriend them. Be selective with your sharing. You wouldn't allow that in real life, would you? And yes, the potential exists to stick your virtual foot in your virtual mouth if you become careless with your privacy settings. But that can happen in real life, too.

I am in awe of the ability to harness social media for the greater good. There are so many wonderful examples, but Momastery comes immediately to mind. Here's a blogger turned philanthropist – her Monkee See, Monkee Do foundation that has sponsored Love Flash Mobs to show people that They Matter, Love Wins, We Care. And the recent craze over the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is another amazing example, raising over $100 Million for ALS research!

Despite my tendency towards healthy skepticism, I'm basically an optimist. I almost always want to give folks the benefit of the doubt, to believe they intend to do good. I believe we can use social media for so much good. Let's not let the abusers ruin it for the rest of us.

 

Irreverent (imaginary) Tweets

HERE ARE SOME THINGS I MIGHT HAVE TWEETED this morning while sitting in the choir loft at my church, through not one but two morning services. This happens from time to time, on Big Church Sundays, that the choir is asked to sing during both services. Most of the time, this isn't a big deal and I manage just fine. But today, well, my head just wasn't in the game. Especially the second time around. This might be the Dirty Little Secret of choir members: We may look all pious and reverent, sitting up there in our matching robes, but don't assume we are all always completely engaged in what goes on around us.

Lucky for you, I didn't have my Blackberry, so I scrawled these notes on my bulletin.  As I sat quietly and tried to listen to everything. TWICE. (I know. This could mean I'm going straight to hell.)

Can someone pass me a Sudoku, maybe, or a crossword?

Can't believe I'm thinking this: I would rather be doing laundry.

SING IT, people! With enthusiasm!

Wait; that doesn't make any sense. Can you repeat that?

Hey, folks in the back! There are plenty of good seats left up here in the front! Good views of attractive singers!

If I close my eyes, maybe they'll just think I'm praying, or meditating. Won't they?

Hey, Man in the front row, WAKE UP! No fair you can sleep and I can't.

STORE LIST: Milk, bread, eggs, pepperoni, dog food, apples, fish sticks, Diet Coke, something for dinner…

What would YOU have Tweeted this morning, in church or otherwise?

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I don't often check my site analytics because I'm not all that hung up on my numbers. However, the search terms are fascinating! So, If you are the person who landed here by searching "tetanus from can of soup", "shit soup", "breast torture interrogation" or "fun finger food hat", I apologize, for I'm sure you didn't find here what you were expecting. Please refine your search terms and try again.

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One year ago today: I shared a cool postcard from Brigantine, NJ from the late 1960s. Commenters left some hilarious caption suggestions!

Barack Obama is now following me on Twitter!

This morning, with all the buzz around Barack Obama maybe announcing his running mate later today, I visited his website and signed up for text alerts so I would be among the first (millions) to know. While on his website, I decided to follow Barack Obama on Twitter. Because, you know, everybody’s buzzin’ ’bout Barack. Plus, I might glean some carefully selected propoganda super-juicy nugget of information, all boiled down to an easily-digestible, bite-sized spoonful.

Imagine my surprise when immediately, I received email stating that Barack Obama is now following me on Twitter. ME! Barack Obama is following Megster67 on Twitter! How cool is that? Because I guess my friend Barack (I can call him that now, right, since we’re tweets?) really wants to read the 140-character snippets of minutiae I feel strangely compelled to post. (As do all of you. Shut up, you know it’s true.)

Will you groan if I say that I am all atwitter at this new development? Sorry; I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, of course now I’m wondering: Do ya think Barack will still be following me on Twitter if he is elected President of the United States? Will he be my friend on Facebook? Is the use of new social media simply a campaign thing, or will he actually use it to reach out to the world from the Oval Office? And what are the implications if he does?

These are uncharted waters, people. It’s a new frontier.  Discuss.