Well, made it to another Friday and my gosh, it's nearly March! Holy mackerel!!
For those of you that follow me here, first and foremost, thank you. It's only been about six months since I've started this blog, and it's been a mix of information, searching, more information and kvetching. What I've realized is the incredible power that Social Media has, both over Society as a whole and us as individuals. I'll leave the larger Social aspect of it to the professionals; today I'd like to address the personal, individual aspect.
In August, I attended my first tweet-up, a social event taking place during the Society of American Archivist's meeting in Chicago. At the end of March, I'll be attending the Midwest Geneabloggers first meeting in Ft. Wayne, IN where I'll be meeting a group of ardent genealogy bloggers to research and socialize. Hmmm...there's that word...socialize. Because, I believe, many of us are here to fill a social void in our lives. That's not to say that we don't HAVE social lives...LOL...just that there may be an aspect missing, or more to the point, there's something additive about being on social media.
My first foray into Social Media was in about 2007 when my husband's nephew was preparing for a May 2008 wedding. There were plans galore, and with people being strewn across the globe, everyone was getting on Facebook to stay in touch. So I thought, 'why not.' And, like many before me, I lost my mind. Heh. I allowed Facebook to take up far too much of my time. But, I was able to connect with people I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to connect with: people I'd gone to grammar and high school with, relatives in other States, people I did (and didn't) know in foreign countries. At that time, Facebook was fairly easy to use, and it was private. I could send private messages to people without concern that everyone on the Internet would be reading them.
But then, as Facebook grew exponentially, they started to make changes. Mark Zuckerberg has notoriously said that he thinks everything on Facebook should be open and transparent (as Twitter is), and that flew in the face of many user's expectations. People started leaving Facebook looking for other social media outlets. One of my friends (@thinkstory) told me about a newer social media platform called Twitter. It wasn't anything like Facebook, yet allowed you to connect with other people. So, I tried it. And, once again, I lost my mind. Heh.
The huge difference between Facebook and Twitter is that on Facebook you "friend" people, but on Twitter you "follow" people. People you DON'T know. And, right about now if you ask, 'why would you want to do that?', then you're missing out on a huge part of social media. I like to think of Twitter as a giant 1950's era dance party. You walk in and see all the little groups together in one big room. There's a huge variety of people, and generally speaking your instinct will be to head over to the group you already know. They welcome you warmly, and it feels good. Then someone from one of the other groups comes over and says to one of your friends, 'hey, did we meet at the soda fountain the other day?' Your friend acknowledges them, interacts with them and you feel comfortable because there's a mutual connection. But, and this is where it gets really great, the new person then says, 'Hey! I have a whole bunch of other people for you to meet!!' You have the opportunity and option to either meet them or not. It's social. All the way.
Why the heck am I bringing this up? Well, there are more and more social media platforms, with more and more ways to connect with people. I left Facebook for a while, mainly because of privacy concerns. I didn't like the fact that what had been a seemingly closed, private network became so open and transparent. But, having spent a couple of years on Twitter, I realized I could utilize Facebook in the same manner now, and so I decided to do that. A few days ago, I started sending Friend requests to people I'd connected with on Twitter and Google+. The more of those I'd sent requests to, the more suggestions I received. So, I went on a Friend spree. Except yesterday I received a nasty message from Facebook saying I had Friended too many people and/or sent Friend requests to too many people I didn't know. Well, duh. YOU suggested I Friend these people, so I did. Anyway, in the end, I received lots of messages of support when I vented my frustration about it, and I'm not going to let a silly policy stop me from 'meeting' people on Facebook.
If you're not out on Twitter, I strongly recommend you try it. There are many, many wonderful genealogy Tweeps out there, willing to follow you, if you follow them. And, if you just want to lurk, i.e. watch without participating, I have a list of genealogy tweeps you can follow: Its All In The Family. You can find me @ArchivalBiz. If you have questions or aren't sure about it, send me an email and I'll be happy to explain it. In the meantime, get out there. Socialize! You just never know who you're going to meet. :-)
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