A couple of weeks back, at the #Eat.Drink.Tweet conference, the keynote was delivered by a guy named Rick Bakas, whose claim to fame is that he was the very first Director of Social Media in the wine industry.
It was a really great keynote, but how he started the presentation was the part that really stuck with me. He showed us a picture of his grandfather. The only photo he had of his grandfather. It was grainy, and his grandfather was in the back, and you couldn’t really even pick out his features. Rick then proceeded to contrast that picture to the legacy of thoughts, photos and even conversations he would be leaving to his own grandchildren via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr: a kind of cultural curation, he called it.
It’s pretty cool when you think about it. My son is growing up in a time where I’ll often hear him say “Hey, Mom, take a picture of this and put it on Facebook.” And he even knows how to do that himself. Part of the reason I am on Facebook is because Michael’s grandparents live on the island, and because we are both on Facebook, I know that any time I post something about what we are up to, or post photos, they will know about it and feel connected to him in that way. The entire Mommy-blogging movement started from that place: creating a journal or a diary for your child, but online, where people who are interested in your child’s growth and development, but don’t see him every day, can play along.
There are many, many people who think that this kind of lifestyle is eroding the structure of society, or even that it is downright dangerous. If you include your address on your Facebook page, for example, and then post that you are going out of town for the weekend, you are basically inviting thieves. All the new (and super cool) geotracking apps, like Facebook Places and Foursquare could be bait for a stalker.
Beyond that, at the end of the day, do we really give a hoot about what you are having for lunch on any given day? Many believe that we’ve gone too far in the other direction: there is too many people posting about the minutae of their lives, adding to the already overwhelming noise of the interwebz.
I often say that social media has saved my life. That might be bit dramatic. Perhaps a more accurate way to say that is that social media has saved my social life. As a single parent with almost no time to socialize (without hiring expensive babysitters–if I can even find one!), who works from home, but is basically, at the end of the day, an extrovert who loves to be around people, social media is my virtual social life. I don’t think that makes me a pathetic person. It allows me to connect with my friends and for them to connect with me on our own terms–like if I can’t sleep at 4 am. And time and time again, social media has added to my relationships by allowing me to keep in touch with friends I may not see that often, so that when I do see them, the time is more joyful and less awkward.
So I will continue to live my life “out here” for a while. And you will probably be the first to know if something happens to change my mind otherwise.
How about you? Do you live your life on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr? Has anything scary ever happened to you? Do you feel like Facebook is responsible for the demise of the face-to-face conversation? I’d love to hear.