I had a very interesting discussion yesterday about social media and how difficult it can be if you don’t want to use it or feel that it is unnecessary in your life. Responses to conversations like this with those who do use it (and love it a lot) often include denial, anger, and bargaining. I have to admit that my decision to participate in social media has brought me through most of the seven stages of the Kübler-Ross model and I now sit firmly between depression and acceptance.
For the record, I think that this is an exceptionally good place to have landed. Through my class work, more on-the-side activity and by opening myself up to the opportunities, challenges and dangers of these networks, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of the factors at play in this relatively new online environment. What I’ve discovered has both delighted and disturbed me. I’ve gone from lurker to participant in 10 short weeks. I’ve started, stopped, turned around, re-started and duplicated many of my efforts, all for pragmatic reasons, because this is the way I learn. The environment and infrastructure has allowed me the flexibility to do this and all I’ve given up is my personal data, which I’m pretty sure I had already given up in the first place.
I have read a few articles this week that have illustrated the wonderful variety of emotions toward social media. These range from those who have given it up, like Jordan Turgeon in his piece I Quit Social Media (And I Don’t Miss it Yet), to Kevin Allen’s Why I Love Social Media. In between are so many shades that it is exceptionally difficult to find common ground, which forces you to take a stand, no matter what that stand might be. Mine is reluctant acceptance, mostly due to inquisitiveness. I understand the benefits and I weigh the risks. Since I have chosen to study in this field, I don’t feel that I can do that effectively while standing on the sidelines. However, I can certainly participate in such a way that I am fully aware, and capable of helping others to be so, of the privacy and surveillance issues that we should all be discussing.
Now, for those of you who are dead-set against social media, I don’t think you can get away anymore with knowing nothing about its inner workings. Please take heed of the wisdom of Sun Tzu and “know your Enemy.” There’s a very quick blogpost by Allison in the RoundPeg.biz site that nicely lays out what you should know about social media even if you never intend to use it. We’re well past the point where ignorance can be considered bliss and that ignorance may turn out to be more dangerous than you realize.
I’m not sure if this picture could be a sunrise or it could be a sunset. This is how I’m feeling about social media after all of this experimentation: