Do I even belong? Reason or excuse?
I never thought I would get here.
I have been thinking about taking a course in social media for years, but I always had a reason not to. “Too busy, too tired, maybe it’s not necessary, I have more important things to do.” These were all on my list of reasons to wait, or more accurately on my list of excuses.
I have a degree in English literature, studied creative writing some time ago and as a result, am not incompetent with the written word. People say I’m articulate and funny and a good story-teller, so shouldn’t I already be on the WWW wowing people with my wit?
Not so easy
Sure, I can tell a story to a group of people standing around me, people with whom I can make eye contact and who’s body language I can read and who encourage me with a laugh, or a nod, or a sparkle in their eye. But this, this is different. I can’t see you, I don’t even know if your still reading, maybe I haven’t given you a reason to follow me this far. Perhaps my title wasn’t catchy enough, my use of headings not fluid enough, my choice of material not compelling enough.
How do I make a connection with you through this medium? This feels so sterile, I can’t see you, don’t know what you look like and I can’t tell if I am boring you. I read that social media must find a way to be human, to tell a story, to make a connection, that we must find our audience and go live among them. I liked that idea. I know at least one of you loves to travel, isn’t that what you did, go live among people and make some kind of connection even if fleeting?
I can remember running cards marked with pencil through this enormous thing called a computer in grade 8. You ran the cards through one afternoon and then the next morning you would find out if the computer performed your task or solved your problem. The problem wasn’t global warming, or a cure for cancer, it was 2+2 +4. I am surprised I ever set foot near a computer again. Then I remember my friends Commodore 64. Then my first PC clone in university. Now my laptop, more powerful than all of them combined, is balanced on my legs as I type this to you from where I am living in the desert not far from Iraq. I am 9, 936 kilometres from Ottawa according to Google, but I didn’t feel that far away from you when I read your introductions and learned that some of you share my interests, some of you share my concerns and some of you share my fears. The technology can close the distance, but it cannot complete the connection. The technology is the “media”, people are the social. To be social, we must, to a certain extent be ourselves.
Just signing up for this course and following the instructor’s guidance has brought us to this place. Whether we are reluctant, apprehensive, excited, confident or ambivalent, here we are in a tiny community we built whose streets and buildings are our own. This course brought us together and this blog will build our sense of community. We all have a little bit in common, enough to have brought us this far, what we do next is up to us. Will we live among each other? Tell our stories, be human, get comfortable with social media together? I hope so.
Ones and Zeroes?
Without the “me” you can’t spell social media. I know that eye-roller would end up in the waste bin at the Hallmark card factory, but there has to be some personality in this, some human connection or it all really is just meaningless ones and zeroes. Businesses push product through social media to influence consumer behaviour, can we push ourselves through social media and build a connection, learn together, overcome our fears? I am looking forward to finding out.