kyndallrae

creating me [using words]

The Strange, Strange World of Social Media

It is potently powerful and severely limited at the same time. Facebook, blogs, Twitter—I vacillate between diving in to immerse myself in the mediums of the day and swearing off it all for good to embrace my romanticized notions of former simplicity.

Last week was a perfect example. I was awestruck by the exchange of dialogue, by how fast an audience can build, by the ability to communicate across great spans of geography. Yet I am frustrated by the limitations of such impersonal modes of communication, and how that limits your voice, how it sets you up to be misunderstood and misused.

On the topic of feminism specifically, I feel grateful for the opportunity to give voice to my experience and perspective, and I feel astounded, truly astounded by how well it was received. I feel likewise aggravated how impersonal dialogue via the Internet can be, and how that entices us to make assumptions about one another we would never make if we were speaking face to face.

As exhilarating as last week was, I find myself wanting to forget about it now, to create distance from the whole affair. I am too conflicted on the inside about whether these online conversations are worthwhile or whether they foster sharper divisions. Are we coming to understand one another better or are we digging our own trenches deeper?

I want to model healthy civil discourse—is this possible in social media?

What do you think? Have you experienced constructive conversation online or does it seem more like a hamster wheel that takes you nowhere? Which do you see more often— people transforming or people solidifying a stalemate?

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7 thoughts on “The Strange, Strange World of Social Media

  1. I very much enjoy my interactions with a few other feminists via Twitter/blogging, and with some of my friends-at-a-distance on Facebook. Some speak offensively or unthinkingly, but for the most part I am glad to be available online for conversation about these topics.

    Do you have a public Twitter account you’re willing to share?

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Right now I only use Twitter via my church account @CovenantSA. I’ve been thinking about abandoning Facebook in favor of Twitter for my personal stuff though. I am liking Twitter better.

  3. I have found that pre-established relationships usually make all the difference. There are some people I have become friends with that I met through blogging or social media, but it was very difficult and took a lot of effort and miscommunication before it was possible. I don’t think social media is really set-up or framed well to have these kinds of conversations. We want to believe that it is. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just difficult to overcome the inherent problems with the medium.

  4. Social media creates the possibility for connection across great geographic gaps, but it does lack in the connection department.

    Even when great dialogue begins publicly or privately through messaging, I wonder if it ever resonates in the persons thoughts and ultimately in their perspectives and actions.

    Can someone really digest the conversation if just seconds afterwards they are looking at a picture of a cat in a box?

    This social media creates a space for weighty and worthwhile discussions, but does it get lost in the blur of inconsequential information?

    Also, how do you share emotion? How do you share heartbreak, grace, rejection, or peace? Sometimes words don’t do these emotions justice. And emoticons definitely don’t :)

    Social media may broaden your audience and the distance of one’s voice, but I fear it might limit the impact of that voice.

  5. And the irony is . . . we’re discussing all this via social media. :) Apparently we all feel some value, or we wouldn’t keep coming back, right? I agree, it broadens the audience but probably limits the impact.

    For me, the one exception to the norm has been Momastery–I have seen a true (?) community form around that blog . . . and yet, it has its limits too.

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