Our cognition of the world and even our conception of self is defined by the interaction with other human beings. My husband loves to remind me that “lack of communication can lead to insanity and/or death.” Seems only appropriate that social media, a human creation, has come to be a powerful manifestation of our basic human need to share, connect, learn, interact, gather, post, express…
I have to admit, I did not jump on the social media bandwagon quickly or even eagerly. A self-admitted introvert, prone to excessive analysis of everything within and around me, libraries and bookstores were more natural habitats to me than AOL chatrooms or even a round of Words with Friends. The warnings about social media are plenty, and while not to be ignored (after all, it helps to remember what your friends look like face-to-face than see their posts on Facebook), social media offers a wealth of information to anyone savvy enough to take the time and pay attention. So, being a technology geek, I had to learn to also find my library Zen in the midst of Facebook posts and the blogosphere on topics of interest.
Like most of us, I have started on AOL, moved on to MySpace, tinkered with Twitter and even caved and opened a Facebook account (which does give me access issues on my android phone!). Pinterest helps find recipes and kids’ haircut ideas. Picasa proved to be a much more convenient tool for sharing picture albums with family than email or Dropbox.
Some venues did not stick. For example, Classmates was quickly replaced for me by its Russian counterpart, Odnoklassniki.ru. Same basic principle, but with more people from my childhood. VKontakte also offers a valid, yet less robust, way to stay in touch with Russian-speaking friends and family. Facebook is slowly winning them all, however.
Yelp helps in a pinch when looking for childcare options in the area – reviews are right in front of you. Wikipedia is good for looking things up and for correcting entries if you see any discrepancies or deficiencies in existing posts. YouTube is definitely my best friend – where else can you snag videos of events on Maidan right before they are taken down and post your family home videos, all at the same time? LinkedIn keeps me connected with industry news and experts, offers career advice and a chance to commune with people worldwide to exchange information on companies, markets and employees within. I have consulted Glassdoor for employee reactions and salary updates on particular positions and organizations. Every little bit helps! We cannot afford to stay disconnected, yet do need to know how to use all the resources available to us wisely and carefully.
For additional help gathering news and latest information on topics of interest, my husband and I run ruski.biz, the Eurasia desk, a site that pools Eurasia-related news from various sources.
I still prefer to be more of an observer, not a person with most posts per day. Not that I do not have much to say, but I prefer to see other people’s reactions, thoughts, ideas, and definitely insert myself in a conversation when feeling the need.