Meredith,I’m inspired by your passionate interest in social media, and I’m looking forward to learning about it. We’ll be doing this blog-alogue periodically over the next month or two. Let’s get started.So — I think I’m a web savvy guy. I blog. I’m on the internet all day. I use the web for news, music, entertainment, all kinds of information. I use Skype to talk to my kids in other states. I read books on my Kindle. Now people are saying I need to get up to speed with social media. What are they talking about?Jim
I’m delighted to be having this conversation here. I love how you characterize me as passionate about social media. That, I am!
My adventures with these online technologies began long before they were called social media. Back in 1993, I was actively involved with a community that gathered on Compuserve to provide information and support to one another about health. (I wasn’t the only one, but certainly one of the few talking about faith and healing, but that’s another story.)
Fast forward to 2007 — the year I launched my personal blog. I quickly added LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to the mix. These days I maintain accounts on quite a few social networking platforms, some I use a lot; others not so much. Some accounts are for me; others for groups or organizations. Much has changed in five years, often too quickly to track in real time. (Let’s talk about what happens to conventional notions of time online.)
The technology has changed and so has the culture of engagement. As a sociologist, I’m forever fascinated by the socio-cultural dimensions and dynamics of social media. As a person of faith, I’m excited what social media makes possible for Christians in general and Catholic Christians in particular.
So much for preamble.
You ask, “what are they talking about?” I say, “it depends on who tells you to get up to speed.” When I implore web-savvy people to get involved with social media, I first want to make sure our conversation is grounded in this definition:
Social media are online (or digital) technologies (or platforms) that can be used to generate and sustain conversation and build community. Social media is also used to “broadcast” information.
Next, to move the conversation forward, I ask folks to do these things from the get-go:
- know that digital, online social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube) are tools.
- realize these tools need to be used along with — and do not necessarily replace — print and face-to-face communication.
- be open to seeing how social media transforms individuals into groups, and groups into communities.
- understand the digital revolution has already taken place and social media is here to stay.
For me, getting “up to speed” must take place at: 1) the practical level of learning how to install and use social media platforms without freaking; and 2) the conceptual level of understanding why to use social media platforms, especially as a means to see, know, and reveal God in all things.
No shortage of fine resources explaining how to get started, so at this tipping-tipping-tipped point in time, I’m fiercely committed to discussing the why to, especially for those who love and serve God. AMDG!