Leaving Luddism

I admit it. I have been living in fear. I have had a Facebook page for years, but I only used it for work and I set it up under a pseudonym so my friends couldn’t find me. I figured it was less likely that something horrendously embarrassing might be posted, ruining any future political ambitions (of which I have none, but I always figured it was good to have options – even incredibly unlikely ones), if my profile wasn’t there to attach it to. I have also watched roommates sink hours and hours of what I considered fruitless time monitoring Facebook. Even Benkler’s assertion that Internet time comes mostly at the expense of television (the “deep-fried dough” of social experience) and shopping was not reassuring. (After all, I like TV and shopping.)

So I set up a second Facebook account yesterday. Under my real name even. Interestingly the people who responded fastest were those who live in different cities who I have not seen in years. Already I see what Benkler calls “a thickening of preexisting relations with friends…” (p. 357). I am a horrible correspondent; when I do write, the effort I put into each email to make up for the great deal of time that has passed since last I corresponded ensures that I won’t write again for another year. Responding to a post, however, doesn’t require nearly the same amount of effort or the expectations around immediate response. Maintaining these relations has become a more fluid process where previously it was a largely lapsed one.

Just in terms of our classes’ experience on twitter over the past week, I feel as if we are forming our own little “gemeinshaft” which is both satisfying and surprisingly rewarding. I certainly feel more connected to the rest of #MACT2011 than I did over the past year. Our twitter experience is the first social media experience that I found concretely supported that social media could provide or enhance a social community on more than a superficial level.

Meanwhile I keep getting welcomed to Facebook like the luddite that I now realize I am.

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14 Comments

Filed under Benkler, group membership, social networks

14 responses to “Leaving Luddism

  1. Seabluezed

    I can agree about not drawing attention to a profile for future career opportunities. Benkler had excellent points on whether or not the Internet would take away other time from activities. Looking at it from a third party perspective, you could technically substitute any “activity” for the Internet, which could take up just as much time.
    Yes – we seem to all be more connected via Twitter this round.

  2. KateInAlberta

    Hi Tana! Your experience with FB is actually fairly common. What I have observed is that the fears you and others express over joining rarely materialize. To “get” FB you have to be on it. It’s that simple. And despite it’s drawbacks (there are many – privacy and data ownership being just two) it offers a remarkable social experience – one I really value and without which, my life would be less rich. Thanks for sharing!

  3. You’re hardly a luddite! It’s all about pushing those comfort zones…

  4. Great reflection and I can relate. I too have struggled – to join FB or not. Much like Twitter and blogging … @KateInAlberta is right … “to get it, you have to be on it”.

  5. I really enjoyed your post, Tana. A lot of people already commented on the content (which is great), but I really like the authenticity of your writing style. It’s your quadruple degrees and your insightfulness shining through. You’re on the top of my reading list.

    • Thanks, Sylvia. I try to be readable and I know there are times (see first post) that I don’t don’t necessarily succeed. I also find it interesting that if I pop the writing I consider readable into any of the online web writing evaluators like http://www.standards-schmandards.com/exhibits/rix/ or a website that evaluates writing level on a grade scale, my “readable” is never as accessible as I think it is.

  6. A wonderful and authentic post Tana! My experience was support inverse to yours. I caught highly participatory and involved with FB, but eventually had to step back and reconcile virtual and real relationships – the importance of relationship I have, recollected, or lost. It becomes intimidating to think you have to maintain a “list of friends”. For me, I’ve had to learn to appreciate FB in a new way – it’s not just a platform for my interactions, but platform to view the relationships of my relationships.

    • I went in with the intention of being very selective of who I actually friend. I don’t want the maintenance of these relationships to become overwhelming and I am very conscious of that possibility.

  7. Andrea

    Good for you Tana, you’re far braver than I am (I’m still holding out). Perhaps you can use some persuasive arguments on me why I should make the shift. I loved this post and the frank honesty behind your reasons to be or not be in some of these social spaces.

  8. I went after a particular cross-cutting section of my network to keep it manageable and to enhance those ties that I am not necessarily good at maintaining through other means. I don’t know whether that type of discrimination would be possible and/or useful within your network.

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