Social Media

Social Media Savvy

Have none. Need some,
says my publisher. 

(iguanabooks.com)

Facebook Goodreads LinkedIn Tweets,
pages linked by clicks that eat

our time, our focus, our minds made ghosts 
that cease to host
attention even for those we love.
Or so I thought, 

watching drivers texting, 
parents neglecting 
toddlers attached to the end of their hands.

I like nature, the woods, where life is connected,   
plants, animals and trees, birds, beetles and bees 
thriving and dying together.

And people. I like watching faces sag and lift, 
shifting, sifting
expressions ephemeral as the passing breeze.
Disability, forcing me to measure each walking step,
has taught me to see 

cracks in the pavement and the tiny flowers growing there.
Resting, I read the strut and slouch of passersby,
admire youth’s fluid grace, feel the arthritic’s aching gait.
But my working world, books, is online now.
I must go there.

So I screw up my courage and hire a twenty-year old.
He looks at my Facebook LinkedIn Goodreads profiles,
my one Twitter follower, and laughs.
“You have some work to do.”

An hour later I understand:

  • how to make a page interesting to someone who has no reason to care,
  • how to link my pages, and why,
  • how to Tweet usefully,
  • how social media take you into the heart of your field, adding colour and depth and breadth to what you know.

The next day my national newspaper reports that here in North America more people than ever suffer from loneliness. Just about everybody has access to a computer, but even as we ‘tweet’ and ‘like’ and ‘friend,’ an unprecedented percentage of us is sinking into a trough of disconnected despond. I live in a city suburb but do I ever see my neighbours? 

Feeding, growing, killing, dying doesn’t only happen in the woods, but do I know how the kids across the street are doing, or who is sick, who has something to celebrate? No. Comfortably cocooned, isolated, we never lack for clean water or a soft bed, but we barely know each others’ names. 

Our planet is a mess, yes, 

here and everywhere, 
but now I see that the social media are nature in action.
Nonsense and laughter, rants and support,
sometimes horror,
Twitter and Facebook and the others are 
human consciousness unfolding
ideas, theories and knowledge growing across the world,
each social media presence dancing to its own rhythms, 
full of possibilities,
every bit as connected as the inhabitants of the wild woods.

So I log in. I can do this.
I want to do this, want to reach
across national, racial, religious, political, economic divides.

Want to help show and tell and build and sell
whatever comes next in the mystery that is Earth.
For one designated hour a day.
Then I hope I’ll log out, 
bundle myself into my overcoat, mitts and boots
and take a walk 

“Social media” is a misnomer

The word ‘social’ has its origin in the Latin ‘socius,’ meaning friend. In real human relationships fundamental messages travel back and forth behind the words. We listen for tone, nuance, watch body and facial expressions even as we choose our words. Feeling, touching, smelling each other emotionally — being our full selves — we  explore, expand, dissect, disagree, creating whatever comes next.

Facebook, Twitter and the rest are “about bits and bites,” a young adviser told me recently. It’s like going to a cocktail party, according to a New York social media expert at Toronto’s Book Summit last June. She’s both right and wrong.

We can share a laugh or a rant, say ‘look what I did,’ solicit sympathy from “Friends.” Instant gratification is ours when someone “Likes” what we’ve shared, or a friend sends us a little “Comment” boost. We like this very, very much. We do it everywhere, all the time. A couple sits in a restaurant, both of them staring at their cell phones. A father walks down the street, one hand holding that of his toddler, the other a cell phone raised to eye level. And we want “Followers.” So much so now that some people buy them. 

    Cruising the “social media” equals spending hours in a single-focused, out-of-touch-with-anyone-present space in which we are blind, deaf and oblivious to the subtle messages coming from those around us. Clues that emotionally crippled people put out can easily go unnoticed. Is it a coincidence that the number of unfathomably violent shootings across the globe parallels the growth of what might more aptly be called the “asocial media?” Or the “mirror media?”

    What do you think? Has too much online Soduko bent my mind, or is this something we need to address?

    Thanks for visiting,
    Jane 

    Words’ Worth

    Words are dynamite. They torture, poison, blow apart relationships, incite riots, create hope, compassion, great love. Wow. Little collections of sound, or written squiggles bunched together, how do they do all that? Fifty years of fooling around with words (I started Very young) leave me marveling at this most powerful gift/tool/weapon.

    Sound is power. “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word was God,” said John in the Old Testament. Once I took a self defense course. Our homework was to practise shouting “FUCK OFF” at the top of our lungs (to shock a would-be attacker.) Even in an empty house it was hard, jarring the system, shattering conditioning. Try it. Raw sound — especially at the top of your lungs — splashes inside your cells, affects your heart, blood, nerves, skin, feelings, thoughts.

    Vowel sounds, variations of ‘a,’ ‘e,’ ‘i,’ ‘o,’ or ‘u,’ are the breath of life. Ancient Hebrew words, written, included no vowels. These sounds were added in the speaking. (Deepak Chopra: Journey to the Boundless) The breath of life: in the beginning I picture humans standing up, grunting or barking to show what we wanted, murmuring our pleasure. And once we get an idea it doesn’t take us humans long to run with it. Soon we were shaping the sounds, adding syllables, prefixes, suffixes to communicate feelings, plans, ideas. Making stories, changing our world.

    Some sounds are the same no matter what the language. ‘Ma,’ denoting mother, is there in ancient Sanskrit (matr), and the Romantic languages (madre in Spanish, mere in French) and German (mutter) and English. Every word carries history, sometimes thousands of years old, and that is so totally rad, man. Once I finish this blog, I’ll upload it and then? Omigod who knows? LOL.

    Make up a word, something wriggly or obtuse or just plain obfuscatious. Now use it, I dare you. Have some fun watching people’s reactions. Shakespeare coined thousands of words, and look what a good time he had. 
    Thanks for your visit,
    Jane