Whether we like it or not, we are all caught up in the connectivity of social media, we only have to present our Tesco’s clubcard to find ourselves participating in a range of databases , many of which we have no idea we are contributing to.
Like Moliere’s daft “bourgeois gentilhomme” who aspired to be a poet, we may find ourselves amazed and delighted that without knowing it we have been speaking the “prose” of social media as part of daily activities.
Amazon, e-bay,e-mail SMS, the football club website we access to check our kid’s photos they are all part of the process. But obviously the active participation you are making to read this, or set up a Facebook page, or join Linked-in is a conscious step to engage in something which is happening so fast that it scares the life out of us all.
I’m no different, when I see my face appear on a random website and discover something I wrote a year ago is now being re-blogged by someone I’ve never met and being taken totally out of its original context I get worried. Whenever I go for a job interview I worry about what web search has been done on me, I worry about people coming up to me at conferences who I have never heard of and introducing themselves especially when they know more about me than I want them to!
This is the social consequence of web participation and what I’ve set about doing for the past two years is turning a threat into a positive, making my public profile something that I can be proud of and which gives me confidence whether at home or at work.
How we behave in this world of super-connectivity is an expression of our personality. Refusing to participate is in itself an expression of personality. What I find most interesting is to see how, over time, the web profiles of those I am closest to, emerge. I have seen many of my family and friends try to cultivate a web presence through the use of aliases, the promotion of the type of person they would like to be seen to be. Yet “mean reversion” gets to work and the more they try to be someone other than themself, the less easy it gets. Ultimately our web profile will revert to the profile we have presented in the “real world”.
Which is why there is absolutely no point in getting worried! The reticence that we all feel to the web is natural- it stems from our fear not just of the new technology but of ourselves – our insecurity. Naturally, the less-confident will be less confident on the web, private souls will seek privacy from the web and the naturally extrovert will find the web the most marvellous playground.
Over time, as we become more familiar with the interactions we inevitably create and less fearful, we will evolve rules for ourselves, evolve our own behaviours, influenced by what we see as food and bad in the behaviours of others. We will learn to turn down requests to connect politely, understand how to introduce ourselves to strangers without offence or embarrassment and find ways of participating in conversations which suit our personal temperament.
Ultimately, social media is just a more effecient means of conversing , something we cannot avoid and something that we have to learn through trial and error.