My niece 'tagged' a post on Facebook (still not sure what that means exactly) telling her friends to check out her uncle's website (ie. me). I received a lot of extra traffic as a result. One of the nice things about these websites is that they give you a full breakdown of analytics--unique visitors, page views (and which pages). It is interesting. It also shows where the people come from--Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
This is a very clear example of social media working. Someone suggests to their friends to check something out and they do. Result.
In another recent example, last week, a blue van approached a worksite where we are renovating a 17th century house. The van driver asked if there was any scrap metal. They were told 'no' and they left. One of the builders thought the behaviour and look of the two guys and van was suspicious so he took a picture of the van and the licence plate and posted it on facebook. He warned others in the area that these suspicious guys were cruising around building sites. Within a week, another citizen (unconnected whatsoever) saw a quad bike being loaded into a blue van by two suspicious looking characters. (I never saw the people; I'm not sure what a suspicious looking person looks like, but you know what I mean.) They took a picture of the event and called the police. The van and occupants were arrested as a result. This is an example of social media working. (It is also an example of big brother--something I abhor but that is a separate issue.)
I have resisted social media up until now for the very reason that I dislike the breach of privacy that results from us sharing intimate moments with others--only for it to be connected by an algorithm into a search engine for the world to see. Or, for countless accounts to be hacked and sold. If there is one thing we are told repeatedly, there is no such thing as absolute security. The option? Transparency and honesty? Not sure. Perhaps we have nothing to hide. I disagree as many of us refrain from saying what we really think simply because we are uncertain about how it will be received. This is a form of self-censorship that I dislike. It restricts the mind from expanding and exploring the world around us and making mistakes. Unless we make mistakes, we will not learn. Unless we share our mistakes with others, we are all worse off. It comes down to our personal freedoms to express our beliefs, our stupidity and our outlandish dreams. To achieve this requires tolerance of ourselves and others. We need to accept ourselves and our sometimes irrational needs/wants and calibrate those urges into the accepted norms of society. The good part of social media is the speed by which these calibrations can be made. The bad part is the permanence of any mistakes.
The purpose of me joining social media was simple: become visible and try to sell books. The reason for me to stay visible is increasingly becoming the journey itself. I am enjoying learning the complexity behind the screen. I am enjoying learning about the torrents of data that course through the fiber that connects us all. I am beginning to enjoy this blog as an outlet to my inner ramblings. Hopefully you find some resonance with my words. If there is any subject you wish for me to explore, please let me know.
I continue to look at twitter as something that is magical and useless in equal measure. I am contemplating building a list of followers for the sole purpose of building a list. I think it will have value as it drives people to my website. But it is a bit of a vanity project unless it can add value to all of our perceptions of social media. What will I prove by building the list? Last week, I saw a photo of a young girl with long hair next to the same girl with a shaved head. It was listed as requesting prayers for the young girl who had cancer. It had nearly 300k likes and comments. It pulled on my heart strings. Yet, I didn't click on it as I felt manipulated. Why am I being shown this? Are they collecting names/data or is it legitimate. If legit, why put it out into the facebook-sphere? Maybe I'm overthinking this but the image of that little girl still is in my mind. And perhaps that is the value of a good posting or why we follow these various media streams. We desire a lasting image that will form part of who we are. Social media has become part of the building blocks for what we now are.