Like Birds on a Wire: Making Connections through Social Media*
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I became an avid user of social media after the success of my birthday fundraiser last spring, when I raised over a thousand dollars to buy prosthetic limbs for a teenage amputee. Since joining Facebook I’ve ‘friended’ grade-school friends, former ward members, and colleagues from all walks of my life. I love ‘connecting’ with such a large group of vibrant and fascinating people! Social media has also influenced my professional life as I’ve become acquainted with other historians through twittering at conferences (such as last month when I was ‘tweeting’ a digital humanities conference and discovered a fellow twitter-user sitting nearby–we’ve now connected on multiple different topics, including religion).
While I realize that social media has its limitations, and it can be a huge time-suck if it’s not used with moderation, I absolutely enjoy how it offers a daily window into the lives of my friends and acquaintances (yes, I am a bit of a virtual voyeur). It helps me to understand the ‘quiet desperation’ of many of our lives, even as it reminds me that we are not alone in the challenges that we each face every day.
Have you tried any type of social media (such as Facebook, Linked In, Goodreads, etc)? If so, tell us how you’re using it. Also, let us know your twitter alias so we can ‘follow’ you online, too!
*This metaphor reminds of me Laurel Ulrich & Emma Lou Thayne’s excellent book of Exponent essays All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir, the title of which builds on the refrain from a song with lyrics about our connectedness to each other:
All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws or anything they got now
Everybody here is a part of the plan
We all get to play in the great critter band
From the eagle in the sky to the whale in the sea
It’s one great symphony