I finally joined the social media world through peer pressure last summer. Up until the spring of 2013, I felt I was totally at peace with my friendship universe: emailing away about my thoughts, forwarding pictures and attaching documents. Yes, I had a LinkedIn account but it was just there. I didn’t improved it, up-dated it or do anything much to reach out to similar colleagues.
Then a staff reunion was announced for the historic site I worked at for a summer job while in university – and it was announced THROUGH LINKEDIN, I must point out. It was scheduled for July, 2013, with all up-dates on the dreaded Facebook. Under my son’s watchful eyes, we set up my account with me expecting a tidal wave of, I’m not sure what, but I was a timid user. The reunion was the highlight of the year with it taking about a month for my throat to recover from screaming, “OH MY GOD!!” to about eighty people who I hadn’t seen in thirty years.
After the reunion I became a born-again FB devotee. I eagerly searched for people, places and things – but mainly people – as I didn’t want to lose track of ANYBODY. And then I started “liking” things I like: Margaret Atwood, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joan Baez, Jane Austen. Then I starting liking my favorite TV programs and pages that reflect my interest in heritage: Lost Ottawa, Lost Vancouver and Lost Toronto, to mention a few.
But I’m only part of a trend. In the Pew Interest article (links below), 67% of all adults are on social media and are there to keep in touch with family, current friends and search out old friends. More women do this than men (73% verses 55%) however this would be even more likely if I was been the ages of 20 to 50. But the older you are the more likely you are the use social media to pursuit interests as well however it’s men that take the lead there.
Facebook is King. Of the adults who only use one social media platform, 84% say that Facebook the site of preference.
But as a reliable tool for social research, social media is all too new to be really useful. OPMnetwork (in link above) states that while social media is touted as a step ahead for public dialogue and a discourse of ideas because of its volume and easy of exchange, there are also issues of legitimacy, accessibility, source and privacy. All of this colours the quality of the online research.
With social media being so … social, it will take time for researchers to catch-up and thrill us all with their findings.