Thursday, March 15, 2012

IS SOCIAL MEDIA REALLY SOCIAL?

The other day a few of us at work were discussing the pros and cons of all of the social networking avenues that are available to everyone nowadays. There is such an abundance of these things that if everyone was connected to all of them they wouldn’t have time to be sociable in any venue other than electronically. In fact, it gets to the point where you’re so connected that you’re disconnected, if you know what I mean.
Between Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, WindowsLive, Bebo etc. etc. you could be on your Smartphone or your stupid computer all of the time and never actually talk to a person face to face. And many are.
But that’s a slippery slope, too, isn’t it? Take the story of the guy in Seattle who’s two wives met on Facebook and he ended up being charged with bigamy. Apparently, this guy and his first wife split up after eight years of marriage but they were never legally divorced before he changed his surname and married his second wife. Facebook, as it is wont to do, recommended that the two women become Facebook “friends”, which they did, but I don’t know for how long, and they discovered they were both married to the same man and then the first wife alerted the authorities to the situation when she wasn’t convinced that he would rectify the situation through the proper channels. He’s been charged with a felony and it could impact his job as a Corrections Officer, (ironic isn’t it, that he couldn’t “correct” his own situation?), and the prosecutor stated that, “it’s not the crime of the century, but it’s still a crime.” Too lazy? Too busy? Too scared to lose it all? Too distracted with finding another wife? Why the guy didn’t proceed with a divorce was not disclosed in the article I read about the matter but I wonder if he’s reconsidering his actions now.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think that our elected officials should be communicating with their constituents via Tweets, like the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative of Northern Ontario, Tony Clements, who is notorious for his Tweeting. Personally I think it’d be hard to get your point across in 140 characters or less but I’m more of a “the devil’s in the details” kind of guy and I need more details than I can get in140 characters worth of information.
I am also confused with the information that many are willing to share with the world through their social media outlet. Do we really need to know what you are doing every second of the day? Seriously? Do we? But, then again, reading social media is like holding a TV remote-we have a choice to not watch, look or read it don’t we?
There’s cyber-stalking and cyber bullying and a whole litany of other social networking scammers out there but when one is dealing with human nature it’s only a matter of time before someone finds a way to use and abuse any given program or product. But on the other hand, there’s the Anchorage Twitter community which is very close-knit and their members have created some real strong friendships and the Tweeps babysit each others kids and dogs, housesit for each other and bring food and medicine to other users when they are sick and offer moral support when times are tough. So, as usual, something can be used for good or for evil. It just depends on the users’ intent.
On a personal note I like keeping in touch with family and friends and sharing photos and anecdotes about the grandkids and such but, as with all things, moderation is the key and I’ll pass along this piece of advice for you to use when contemplating a jump into the ol’ social media pool.
“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.” – Erin Bury, Sprouter community manager.

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