Tag Archives: social media

Discuss this with yourself…

I just finished reading an article about “Electronic Overload.” The article encouraged me to determine whether or not it was time for me to get disconnected by asking myself a series of questions. (I kinda hoped the article would suggest feeling compelled to read it mean I needed to disconnect.)

At the same time, the article suggested that a need to be constantly connected to Facebook, Twitter, etc. has become the “new norm” whereby we feel compelled to keep up with our 813 Facebook Friends’ Daily travails, food choices, game scores, and assorted other drama. So I’m not sure if I was being encouraged to disconnect or understand that this is the way life now happens.

Since I had just spent my daily fifteen minutes of Facebook time prior to reading the article, I could relate. When I closed Facebook I found myself actually chuckling over some of the things I’d learned. I suppose I could list some here, but I’m not going to risk embarrassing people. Suffice it to say that I’m not sure I gained much by knowing where people partied last night, what quotes they liked and shared, what music they were listening to…

Okay, the latest picture of a nephew was  really cute… and having occasional contact with relatives and friends quite literally around the world is sorta neat. Many of these connections are ones I wouldn’t otherwise have. But like all good things, there’s a flip side to this. Our species seems to have difficulty with moderation.

I recently had a conversation (in real-time on the phone, not online) with a friend (A) who reported some difficulties with a mutual acquaintance (B) who “usually gets things done,” but has been unresponsive of late and is creating some difficulty as a result. A quick check of Facebook yields lots of reports of B’s game achievements and at least one request for me to “connect” and join in. Do you suppose there is a correlation? Is B somebody who should perhaps occasionally disconnect?

On a slightly different track, another friend sent me a link via email to a site with a cartoon she was quite sure I’d enjoy. In my reply to her, I noted that she created a bit of “lost time” for me this morning as I couldn’t resist poking through some of the others. It was in the course of doing that I encountered one that instructed: “Discuss this with yourself.” Now that’s a concept that deserves some exploration. For students who attend classes I teach, you can be assured you’ll occasionally hear that.

So here’s the deal. I’m not going to ask you to discuss whether or not you need a little disconnect from electronic media. Many of you already know you do. I am going to ask you to discuss your priorities with yourself. That might include a hard look at your Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc. activity… if you can be objective about what you see, it will show you where your priorities are in practice.  If you can’t be objective (an admittedly difficult assignment–we’re better at rationalizing our behavior than analyzing it), at least discuss with yourself what you think your priorities are. Then discuss with yourself if your connections and habits match your priorities.

Ask Somebody!

For a number of years I’ve been conducting dictionary presentations with third graders. There’s a point at which I ask the kids, “What do we do if we come to a word we don’t know?”

Historically, the kids have pretty much unanimously replied, “Look it up!” (The pile of dictionaries behind me is probably a clue that helps them with the answer.)

Well, this year I was a bit surprised to hear a few kids say, “Ask somebody!” This in spite of the prominent pile of dictionaries.

And then today I learn about a project whereby Amazon.com has hired some folks from Quorus–a service that is adding a “social dimension” to online shopping. Say you are shopping for a gift and are having trouble deciding. The Quorus program would allow you to “discuss” the purchase (online) with other members of the family both in real time (chat) and offline.

Imagine being able to ask all of your friends online, “Will these pants make my butt look big?”

As if to reaffirm this trend, when I was getting instruction regarding my newly aquired SmartPhone, the representative pointed out that “the best thing to do when you are looking at an ‘ap’ is to see what the reviews (other people) have said about it.” Yep, that sounds like “ask somebody” to me! Instead of researching the developer and the features of the ap, I’m supposed to count stars I guess. (Actually, I do read reviews–but that’s only one component of the research.)

Surely we could spend days discussing the ramifications of this trend.  I’ll bet if we involved Madam DeFarge she’d opine, “It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times.”

My relationship with technology is at times tenuous, although I confess I have personified my GPS and will occasionally argue with her, but often rely on her. “Greta says that I’ll be arriving in 45 minutes…” In practice, I’ve asked Greta (her last name is Garmin) how long the trip will take. So far, I remain convinced I’m still smarter than she is.

Let’s set aside the question of whether or not this is all good stuff. (Personally, I like seeing kids looking up things in the dictionary instead of asking somebody. I also still have arguments with Greta when she tries to make me take a turn that doesn’t make sense. Suffice it to say, asking somebody is not a substitute for using our brains.)

One of the questions this does raise… Where are we going to learn the social (media) graces? To wit, if I bump into you at the bank in Dover Foxcroft, I’m probably not going to show you a picture of what I had for breakfast. For that matter, if you invite me to lunch, I’m probably not going to whip out my (yet unnamed) SmartPhone to ask people what looks good on the menu.

Whaddya think?

Don’t say, “I’m not sure, let me ask somebody.”