Why Do You Use Social Media?

Posted on September 7, 2011


I’m having “a moment” today with scattered thoughts that must be somehow related, but they’re not coming together so I’m going to pull a @TheJackB and write anyways. 

I had a conversation with Stan Faryna via email this week and he asked me what I wanted out of social media, esp. Triberr.  Any answer I’d give would be made up because I just don’t have one. All I can say is I started using social media last year, gave it up for a few days when I wasn’t sure about it, and came back and haven’t left since. I’ve felt led and guided to a group of people who I feel very close to. I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time for me. But I didn’t plan a bit of it. And there are days where I feel like I’m going in circles!

All I ever really wanted from Facebook was a fun conversation. I got that as long as I participated.

From Twitter I wanted to learn from genealogists how to spread the word about family history. I got that and a lot more.

Triberr makes me nervous because my plate is pretty full, but mostly I don’t want to just “use” the system. I want to grow relationships and to do that I must have time to get to know the people in the tribe by reading their blogs.

So it’s 6am and I’m driving back over the Merrimack River into Hudson to wake up my children for school and I’m thinking again. First I chuckle about the 3 teenagers I just dropped off who’ll study the Old Testament this school year from 6-6:45am every day before school. They made me laugh singing to Country music and then Bruno Mars. They’re so happy. I kidded with them as they left the car saying,”Go be spiritual”, and they grunted back. Not everyone is a morning person. But they’re exceptional kids.

Then I start thinking about Kindergarten. Yup. I remembered the first feelings of awkwardness as we got to know each other and get the hang of the rules of school and friendship. My teacher freaked me out when she passed around a plate of mushrooms for all of us to try. I’d never tried one and I really didn’t like being forced! I probably didn’t eat one. So school was about new people and new things. The experience I’d have would be mostly up to me. I’d either be asked to play, invite someone to play with me, or I’d hang out by myself.

The thoughts of my childhood friends morphed into thoughts of my online friendships. I consider my new friends to be my online “Kindergarten” friends, figuring out the rules of a new territory away from home, having fun and deepening friendships along the way.

Every day I wake up at 4am (I go to bed wicked early) and start “playing”. I read blogs and fill my mind with good thoughts that my friends have taken time to write and publish. Sometimes I’ll comment. Well, most times if truth be told! There are days when I have a story from my family history that controls my brain until it’s written. On those mornings I can’t read as much. Mostly I’m getting to know the author of the blog better. There are a lot of blogs out there. I can’t read them all. I’m sticking to the ones I’ve found for now. I’d rather go deep than wide if you know what I mean.

Which brings me back to why I’m online at all. I could continue to work close to home, helping one person at a time with their family history. That’s what I was doing. But why settle for that when I could be much more efficient and reach a few more people online?  I try to remember that that’s my main goal when I’m online. For me it’s payback for every bit of help my family has received over the years. It’s something that I love to do that brings huge value to a person’s life.

So maybe I can pull all these thoughts together. This is what I’m learning:

  • Take the opportunities that life offers to meet new people and try new things.
  • Remember who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Take the time to get to know others the way you want them to get to know you.
  • Friendships ARE the spice of life. There may be 7+billion people roaming the Earth, but each life will intersect with only a few. Make the most of those few.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

Now let me help you start your family history. Just kidding!

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