The Choice

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”― William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

It’s still early, but it feels like this course is already paying off. I have read some good material in the course content, but I have found more value in the blog posts of fellow students.I want to give a shout-out to  annemakhoul for introducing me to the Conversation Prism, I found that illuminating, it showed me that social media is not a big homogeneous thing, but rather a diverse array of different platforms and tools each with a different purpose.

Like a bag of golf clubs, there is a unique club for each set of circumstances you encounter on the golf course of social media engagement. Facebook is good for some situations, but not for others. Instagram might be the scratch for your particular itch and so on.

I also very much identified with   experiences as an expat who was both helped and hurt by social media. In fact, her experiences hit a little to close to home for me.

Far and away

As I have explained before, I am in the military and am currently serving overseas on my fifth operational deployment. I have been living in the desert for the past 5 months and each month I spend $96 U.S. dollars to buy 6 megs of Internet bandwidth so that I can stay connected to my family and friends. Frankly, I could not imagine being without it. It connects me to the people I love and allows me to continue to be disappointed by the Ottawa Senators.

My mistake

Several weeks ago, I was feeling pretty low, I won’t bore you with the details, but this has been a tough deployment, the atrocities committed by the Islamic State wear me down every day.

Early one morning several weeks ago I was walking to breakfast andStretched Thins.jpg
the sun was still low on the horizon
and I noticed a long shadow walking beside me on the desert sand. It was one of those moments, you know the ones they call epiphanies. That long shadow looked exactly like how I felt, stretched thin and washed out. I took out my phone and captured that shadow in a picture. I called it “Stretched thin. A desert self-portrait” and I posted it to Facebook.

Only one friend realized what I was really looking for and personal-messaged me some words of encouragement. Everyone else just hit the like button and didn’t type a word or just typed “cool photo”.

I was pretty bitter about that for a while and it was one of the reasons I decided to pull the trigger on this course. I wanted to reach a place of understanding, a place where social media would stop disappointing me. This course may end-up being like couples therapy for me and Facebook.

But I realize now that I was over-reaching and expecting too much. I didn’t make my needs clear and my Facebook account is a pretty shallow place, sadly, not the place I should go looking for real friendship and support in a time of need.

In defense of social media, there are better alternatives available when you need such things. I think I learned a valuable lesson, that social media has alternatives, and each alternative has its limitations. I hope this course helps me to understand both of those better so that I don’t post with unrealistic expectations again, or if I do, I do so knowing that I may not get what I am looking for. In another nod to  , I don’t want to feel like an expat on my own Facebook page.

Update: After posting this, I saw this article: Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

I donèt know if I agree or disagree with that article, but I found one element intriguing, it was this:

In a capitalist economy, the market rewards things that are rare and valuable. Social media use is decidedly not rare or valuable. Any 16-year-old with a smartphone can invent a hashtag or repost a viral article. The idea that if you engage in enough of this low-value activity, it will somehow add up to something of high value in your career is the same dubious alchemy that forms the core of most snake oil and flimflam in business.

That set me to wondering about high value social media.


No copyrights were violated during the production of this blog post 🙂






3 thoughts on “The Choice

  1. Doug, I appreciate your thoughtfulness, and think I’ll be remembering this post often as I make my way through the social media jungle. And I couldn’t agree with the author of the linked article more! I can’t articulate it as well, but I certainly can empathize with his concerns about the diminishing of concentration skills and deep thinking that seem to be a direct result of heavy social media use.

  2. The photo of you in the desert is haunting. I can see how someone quickly scrolling through their Facebook feed would totally miss the significance. But I also feel like someone who knew you more significantly might be able to see the depth.
    I have been surprised by my own posts and which ones receive an overwhelming response and which ones receive little. It seems the ones that I least intend to spark comments and conversation tend to be the ones that do. Sometimes people come out of the woodwork with meaningful responses and in those moments I realize that there may actually be a bigger connection going on than I thought.

  3. “Connected, protected and respected” are three words that my latest cyber guru Thomas Friedman uses to describe close families and communities. This blog area offers some measure of all three. I appreciate your struggle to create deeper connection, Doug. Thank you for telling us about your disappointment, as well as your efforts to come out from behind it.

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