My Struggles With Social Networking
There are 400 million Facebook accounts, 50% of which are logged in to every day. There are 75 million Twitter accounts, although ‘only’ 17% are used regularly. We are clearly living in a world where these are primary forms of communication for many people. Why then, as a technologically-savvy educator, do I have such a hard time embracing either of them?
I use Facebook semi-regularly and purely in a voyeuristic manner. I look at pictures posted by ‘friends’ (I use that term loosely, as I am referring to some people I may not have spoken to or seen in 20 years). I never update my status. I have an unwavering belief that there is not a single person out there with any interest in the minutiae of my existence. Here are a small sampling of status updates posted today by my ‘friends’:
- “productive day, new double pram purchased”
- “watching CSI”
- “sat in the garden with a cold”
- “just set my alarm for 4:50”
So why do I bother having an account at all? I guess I see Facebook as the 21st Century ‘Yellow Pages’. I maintain an account so people can contact me if they feel the need, and so I have an avenue to search for and contact others should the need arise. It certainly isn’t because I need to know how people spent their day.
I was struck with the contradiction of this belief and the fact I write a blog and made the realization that the key to both Facebook and Twitter is the willingness of an audience to show interest what you have to write. If you have a platform where people care about what you say and your thoughts can somehow influence or inspire, then of course these forms of social networking are essential.
I do not hold a Twitter account. I have made an assessment of the Twitter users I read (Jason Beck from detroittigers.com, two English cricketers, the odd celebrity and the occasional link from other sites) and made the same realization as with Facebook – it is a great service for those with a platform and audience, otherwise it is just people with an inflated sense of their own importance sharing mundane details of their existence, details which are probably only of any interest to those living in the same house as them, who ironically they are not spending time with as they are too busy tweeting.
When I begin my new position in September I plan to explore Twitter in more depth, as a tool to advertise workshops or projects I am working on. My assumption is there will be an audience for this. I will look at ways these sites can be used to enhance learning in the classroom and communication between teacher, student and parent. I will approach all of this with an open mind and a willingness to embrace anything I see as valuable. In the meantime I will keep my television viewing preferences, sporting allegiances, health and eating habits for those who care, both of whom are watching me type.