Social media to me is an amazing phenomenon. I admit when it first arrived on the scene, I thought it was a fad that would fade. I never thought people could have meaningful connections via the internet. Okay, I am going to say right now that I was 100 percent wrong. If there is anyone who has had a complete change of mind on the concept of social media, it is me.
Two years ago, I entered the world of Facebook for two reasons: the first was that my husband and I started an NFL analysis site. A publicist friend of mine told me to think about giving Facebook a whirl for promotion. The second reason I went on Facebook was because my dogs’ godmother signed up. Yes, my dogs have a godmother in case I die or become incapacitated and cannot handle their daily canine needs. I feel better knowing the girls are in good hands.
“Who will want to be my friend on Facebook besides you?” I asked Godmother Beth.
“You don’t need tons of friends; people find you,” she assured me.
“I don’t have a good picture. I won’t have to do one of those pucker-lip poses like the young chicks, do I? Pursed lips on them look sexy, but I would like a fish gasping for its last breath.”
“People put up any picture. It doesn’t matter. No one is going to judge you.”
Apparently, she had not seen recent photos of me. Despite my nervousness over the photo, I signed up. Within days, college friends who I had not heard from – well—since college, pinged me and asked to be friends. They chatted about our old dorm mates and old boyfriends. They sent me pictures of their most recent spouses and their kids. Yeah, it’s a regular old reunion.
When I told my publicist friend that I joined Facebook, she squealed with excitement and insisted I try out a few less known social media sites that she was helping to promote. As it turned out, these sites were not the top tier of social networking. I tried to be polite and request and accept friends, but most of the people on those sites wanted me to join their multi-level marketing companies with promises that I could be a millionaire in about six months. If it was that easy to be a millionaire in six months, how come there are not more millionaires around? The other invitations I got seemed to revolve around religion or spirituality. I don’t begrudge anyone their beliefs, but I am just not a person who can commit to a religion easily especially one that wants me to abandon this planet of sin for a new life on Venus. I know Earth has its problems, but I am still sort of fond of it, and I don’t feel the urgency to leave it just yet. I no longer interact with anyone on those sites.
Once I started to feel a little more comfortable about Facebook, I took another brave step – into Twitter again on the advice of my publicist friend. Well, to be honest, she threw me into Twitter. She started a new account for me and started posting my work on various writing sites.
I guess I understand why people pay her. She is tireless in her goal for promotion, and she gets the job done. She says I have a deep-seeded hang up about self- promotion; she thinks it’s too much Catholic school. I think she may be right. Anyway, the dive into social media has been nothing short of enlightening.
Twitter and the writing sites are my favorite social media tools. These sites are to new contacts what Facebook is to old contacts. The people I have met on these sites have proven to be good friends. We not only converse online, but we talk on the phone, and several I have met in person. I have made friends from all over the world, and may I just say how much I appreciate the fact that the rest of the world learns the English language! I try to converse in Italian and Spanish with some of my international friends, but I know my skills are woeful at best. However, my friends from across the sea never make fun of me unless I accidentally call them a bad name.
I do get nervous about social media too. There are always news reports about computer viruses coming from Facebook applications, and I worry that the Federal Government may interpret some of my Tweets as threats to Homeland Security. I read that they monitor tweets. I don’t know if that’s true, but it is a little unnerving. I did get a spamming virus one time on Twitter. I thought I was sending out my link to my blog, but I was sending out a link to porn. Honestly, l do not know how that happened. Many people yelled at me and un-followed me, but one kind lady told me what was going on and walked me through the solution.
So, what have I learned? I learned that there is a world of great people out there and some not so great people. In fact, I met a guy on Twitter who offered to bring me to California so I could experience the thrill of complete and open love in his cabin. I thought he was kidding; it turned out he wasn’t. Luckily, Facebook and Twitter have that un-follow and block option. It does come in handy sometimes.
I hear many people complain that social media has destroyed the need for human contact. I disagree completely. I have made more friends on social media in the past two years than I have in person in the last 10 years. Is social media a substitute for in-person relationships? No way. But it does add interest to my daily life.
photo by Media culpa from www.flicr.com