Social Media…. I just don’t get it….Part 2

While I appreciated the history of technical communication and technical communicators, I just didn’t connect to the reading as much as I did with the Socialnomics reading. I was reading while watching my daughters’ swim class and just went “Huh…That’s me in one sentence.”

It was specifically the comment: “Why do I care?” and the response because you don’t understand. I just don’t get it. (I admitted this last week, see my blog post here.)  I go on Facebook and look at twitter, but I don’t post or tweet anything…Well, not nothing, but rarely anything. The New York Time posted an article in Sept 2008 about this in an article called “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy”. This was reviewed in a blog by Lightspeed Venture Partners and describes the phenomenon of posting and reading and keeping up with status updates as “Ambient Awareness”.

“People are willing to keep open running diaries as a way to stay connected because their ultimate desire it to feel accepted.” This comment from Socialnomics really hit home with me. I was not part of the “popular” crowd in high school and didn’t really relate to anyone in my short after high-school career. I believe this leads me to want to be accepted by my peers, but not really willing to put myself out there.

This whole wanting to be accepted thing has even followed me to UW-Stout. I love online learning because I can do things at my own pace and, for the most part, in my own time, but when it comes to discussions (and now blogs), I always feel like what I am trying to relate is not getting through. This relates to the professor communications as well, specifically grades. I had a professor last semester that said “If you are a Grade-obsessed student…”, I replied that I was, but really I just wanted to make sure that my work was acceptable and what was expected.

This maybe another reason that I hesitate about being more active in Social Media is a little bit about privacy. When you are constantly posting about what you are doing, who you are with, how you are feeling, you are really letting down the wall of privacy. Everyone can read that and see into you and your soul (to a point). I’m going to really date myself here….When I was in high school, we had car phones, not cell phones. the phones were mounted inside the car and if you were lucky, it was a portable phone that came in a case larger than most women’s purses. We did have the money to afford one of those, so I got a pager. When I gave the number to my Grandma, she said she would never use it. “You shouldn’t have to be that accessible to anyone.” is what she told me. it kind of sticks to me it this day, even as I know have a cell phone that fits in my pocket. She never did make it to this era of technology, but wonder what she would think about it now.


If I embrace the concept of Ambient Awareness and make the assumption people do care and want to know what I am up to, maybe I need to start posting more updates about what I am doing and where I am going. I probably won’t post every day that I’m going to work or going home, but there are things that I think about sharing, but don’t because I feel that people just don’t care. But it turns out they probably do and I just don’t get it.

Posted on September 29, 2013, in Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. For a long time, I thought Facebook was just a huge time suck (although, for the most part, a fun time suck) and Twitter made absolutely no sense to me at all. On a personal level, I still mostly feel this way. I rarely post to Facebook or Twitter. I grew up in a very small town where everyone knew everyone else’s business so I have no desire for anyone to know what I’m doing on a daily basis. I like my privacy so social networking/media does not appeal to me on this level.

    I think the key to “getting it” is finding a real, meaningful use for social media that makes sense to you. I am starting to use it to better connect with my customers, to see what trends/activities/events they are into and understand them better – what they deem important, what they like & dislike, and so on…all so I know how to relate to them and help them. For me, social media is meaningful in a professional manner and that has helped me to “get it.”

    • Excellent advice for Lisa here, Lori! I agree that “the key to ‘getting it’ is finding a real, meaningful use for social media that makes sense to you.”

      Lisa, even if you don’t use it to connect with people or share your personal opinions, I would hope you can acknowledge that businesses and workplaces and even higher education is changing as a result of it. In earlier posts you mentioned your hesitancy to blog but I can see you’ve recognized that these posts aren’t very different from discussion board post requirements in other courses. So as long as you can be reflective & make connections between the course goals and assigned readings, I think you’ll be fine! Having your peers respond to your posts should offer a sense of community as well, which isn’t exactly the same as ambient awareness, but close enough!

  2. I enjoyed your post! Thanks for sharing your ideas. The advice your grandmother gave is so true! Nowadays people think they should be able to get a hold of anyone at anytime, but I think that is intrusive. While reading your post, I was reminded of all the apps out there now that let friends and family connect and see where each other are at through a GPS satellite at any time (i.e. Life360). I understand that some of them are for safety (in case someone goes missing, for example), but at the same time, why does anyone need to know where I am all the time?

    • I see I have a Facebook friend who just started using Foursquare which uses, I assume, some sort of GPS function to help you find restaurants & entertainment spots and then it shows on FB when you’re actually at these places. As I noticed more and more of her Foursquare posts, all it made me think was, “wow, she goes out to eat a lot!” LOL

  3. Your comment here really stood out when I read your post:”When you are constantly posting about what you are doing, who you are with, how you are feeling, you are really letting down the wall of privacy. Everyone can read that and see into you and your soul (to a point).”

    Privacy today is not what it used to be, especially with the use of the Internet and social media. This idea that everyone can read and see into a person’s soul to some extent really made me stop and think about this…..whose souls do I see and read daily? What part of my soul am I revealing to the world via Facebook? What an interesting way to put that idea…I liked it immediately. People choose to share the bits they want to via social media. And I am not sure everyone understands how privacy has changed. And then I thought about a friend on my Facebook (a best friend of my sister; she grew up with us) who reveals the most private information about her life: divorce, ex-husband drama, every possible negative issue in her life, anger, and more. She posts other updates, too, but I mostly remember these things. Shouldn’t those details be kept private? Maybe it’s just me, but I would not wish to share all of that with the world.

    Also, you last line got me, too. The idea that people probably care what I am doing, and I just don’t get it is something that happens for me when I do post something on Facebook. I know people care because I get comments or likes back, and then I am reminded that those who care about my soul in the first place are those on my Facebook page, so that makes sense.


  4. I like how your Grandma said “You shouldn’t have to be that accessible to anyone.” I really feel that’s true. I find today with social media and cell phones we compromise “our time”. For example, I have a work laptop with a 4G air card in it and a work cell phone. They expect to be able to reach me whenever, wherever. I feel like we’re a society that’s given up our nights and weekends to work extra hours to show we’re a valuable asset to our job so we can keep it. Even time with our friends is compromised because it’s rare to go out to dinner with friends and not have people constantly on their phones. It’s a beautiful thing to put the phone down and pay attention to the people you’re with and live in the moment.

    I love your image about telling FaceBook about the gym. When I go to the gym I see most people with their phone in their hand and their water bottle in the other. I even saw this one guy on a spin bike using his cell phone to take pictures of his workout. I bet those were posted to FaceBook.

    • LOL I’m glad I’m at a gym where those types of pics don’t happen! I actually don’t mind pics of people at the gym to document their progress or from group fitness instructors marketing their classes, but I’m definitely the type to enjoy the moment and enjoy the time away from email!

  5. I liked your grandmother’s advice. I follow that advice. I like to leave my phone on silent and generally disconnect frequently (to the great annoyance of my roommates and friends). But, I think that you can engage more actively in social media without having to sacrifice your privacy. We had a reading (I don’t remember which one exactly, anyone know offhand?) that talked about how we can use social media to promote an image of ourselves that we like. I don’t know that I would recommend being inauthentic about what you post, but I think that you can share tidbits without a great sacrifice of your privacy.

    For example, I may not post about what I am doing or have done today, even if I did go to the gym. But, I might see something happen that makes me laugh and post about that. It isn’t personal or private, but it does allow me to actively engage with social media and thus with my friends and acquaintances…and then they tell me how funny I am, which is lovely.

    A lot of people have written about Qualman’s “why do I care?” point, which is interesting. I think that other people care both more and less than we think. I mean, if you are using social media on a personal basis, most of your audience are people that you are friendly with to some degree, so they are likely inclined to be at least somewhat interested in what you have to say and not that inclined to hate you for it,

  6. evelynmartens13

    I love that commercial ”the most interesting man in the world” or something. I think he’s supposed to be Hemingway-ish, so it put me in mind of Heminway. What would he make of the social networking phenomena?

    I agree with some of your concerns about accessibility and privacy. One of my challenges with FB is that I don’t feel inclined to post the mundane, but I don’t necessarily want to lay bare of all of bigger “stuff” either. I’m still studying and trying to figure how to make it constructively meaningful in my life, and I am making progress, at least in using it in my professional role.

    Thanks for the article ref. I read the blog and plan to go read the original article.

    For what it’s worth, I think a lot of people find it difficult to find “community” in online learning, especially in the beginning stages where I am now. But I am starting to get to “know” some people and feeling a bit more part of things. I think you’re observations are perfectly valid, though.

  7. I also love your Grandma’s comment about being too accessable to other people. When it comes to social media and cell phone use, I am reminded about the comedian Louis CK. He appeard on a late night show and was asked if he would allow his daughters to get cell phones. That question launched him into a humorous rant about social media, texting, and cell phone use, and people’s dependence on it. Some people don’t seem to agree, but I think it was pretty accurate.

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