Meta Social Media

Last week, in my Social Internet class, our instructions were to coordinate our presentations for this week via Twitter.  As a Twitter novice (and a sometimes anxious public speaker), I was a little concerned.  I barely know how to use Twitter; how were we supposed to form our groups, decide on a topic, determine time slots, and work out all the little details using ≤ 140 characters to communicate?

smoke signals

What I felt this assignment would be like

As it turns out, it wasn’t so bad.  With the help of HootSuite (which I have also never used), I was able to keep track of my classmates’ postings.  It also helped that I tagged one person in a post with the suggestion of a topic, and the rest of our group just kind of flocked together.  Using Twitter, we set our topic, finalized our group, then used a Google Docs page (again, novice) to exchange phone numbers and establish a meeting time; things I would not want publicized over social media.  Our group worked well together, and the presentation was set in no time (with the help of some Panera and coffee, of course).  Therefore, we organized the beginning stages of a presentation about social media using social media.  Definitely a first.

But the meta wouldn’t stop there.

On presentation day (i.e. Monday), we were told there would be another part of this assignment: live tweeting.  Yes, while we were presenting on a social media topic that we organized via social media, the “audience” (aka hostage classmates) would be discussing our presentation over social media (I think I’m getting a headache).  It felt like Mean Girls waiting to happen.  I just hope this is something never assigned to high school students.  The world might actually implode.

However, we all seemed to manage okay.  Not only were the others tweeting during our presentation, my group was tweeting during theirs, too.  It was very strange at first, though.  And it stretched my multitasking attention abilities a little thin initially — listening to the group present, filling out a worksheet for feedback, and tweeting anything that caught my interest…  I felt a little like that I Love Lucy episode where she’s working in the factory and the belt goes on the fritz, so she starts stuffing chocolates everywhere.

i love lucy factory scene

But after a little while, I got the hang of it…and actually enjoyed it (there is a good possibility I made a Farmville joke during the video game culture presentation).  It was intriguing that, while the group was presenting their research, the audience was actively engaged in this silent conversation.  Going in, I thought the idea of live tweeting was pretty rude; some professors forbid laptops in class because they don’t want students distracted by Facebook or Twitter.  Furthermore, I have witnessed students being asked to leave class because they were “playing” on their phones.  My world tilted on its axis a little when I was instructed to do this thing I had always previously been told was BAD.

I’m still not sure where I stand on the issue, exactly.  Live tweeting can definitely be a useful tool (and entertaining for sure), but I also think it should be used in moderation, lest we become so involved in tweeting that we forget to use a more primitive communication tool: our ears.

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How Do You Social Media?

fb doing it wrong

According to a reputable source (aka a random friend), Facebook was first created so Mark Zuckerberg could “check out hot girls.”  Yet, the social media website has grown exponentially, to the point where everybody and their grandmother are on Facebook.

yikes

Zuckerberg never saw THIS coming…

With that kind of widespread use, there are bound to be some…we’ll call them “creative” interpretations of what Facebook is for.

As an example, some people use Facebook to keep up with friends and family (my own personal method – boring, I know).  Others use Facebook as a giant photo album to showcase their weddings, their babies, their tattoos, and most importantly, their lunch.

Others yet use Facebook as a clothesline – that is, to air out their dirty laundry.  I like to call these people oversharers.  There are some details that that guy you sort of liked back in grade school but haven’t spoken to since Y2K does not need to know, like your strange growths and odd smells.  Why some people choose to share with the world what only doctors should hear/see is beyond me.

**Author’s note: I searched for a picture, but after viewing several screenshots of posts where highly personal sights and odors were described in detail on Facebook and Twitter, I decided the human race was better off without the visual.  Instead, enjoy this cute kitten.**

cute kitten

This was also my face when Googling “TMI Facebook posts.”

And by the way, I take the Sara Bareilles approach to Facebook posts requesting that someone bring this person “some chocolate chip cookies because booorrrrrred, mmkay ;)” — I’m not going to do it because you asked for it.  I am not a delivery service.  I don’t work for Jimmy Johns.  My response to these posts (in my head, at least) is “Go get it yourself.”

But, back on track.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites in general have also become a popular news outlet.  For instance, when a celebrity dies, most of the people I talk to say they heard the announcement on Facebook or Twitter.  Similarly, many people get their weather information from these sites, as well.  Even though I’ve moved, I am still a Facebook “friend” (follower? groupie?) of James Spann,  a famous and popular central Alabama meteorologist (and yes, there is such a thing in Alabama, a state which tornadoes find extremely attractive).

"Respect the polygon!"

“Respect the polygon!”

But since I am already logged on to Facebook in the morning, slurping down my coffee while sorting through the daily lives of my closest friends and family (as well as that one friend I only keep around due to their basic entertainment factor), it requires less effort to scan James Spann’s weather post (with included radar photos!!) than to even turn on my TV for a local weather report.  Lacking such a report for central Indiana, my new method of weather detection is “carrying a rain jacket with me at all times” because it’s Indiana and, apparently, monsoon season.


However, despite it’s possible original intended use (i.e., Zuckerberg was looking for a date) and the current typical use of the technology (e.g., “omg check out this banana sandwich I’m having for lunch!11!!”, “I have this weird, smelly tumor thing”,  “Oh no! Morgan Freeman died again!!”, etc.), is there really a right way and a wrong way to use social media?  I know there are those annoying ways of using the technology that can get you defriended as quick as the click of a mouse (see previous mini-rant on the use of Facebook as a delivery service), but are these people truly wrong?  I really, really want to say “YES!”, but ultimately, Facebook is a platform that is useless without users (the crazy, as well as the civilized).  So if that’s what you want the world see as your online identity, then post away — but don’t expect me to write you a love song for it.


**Note: Just for clarity…