One of the thing that continues to amaze and encourage me is the power of the Social Internet.
The Social Internet - a term which I believe was coined by either Cal Newport or Nicholas Carr - was designated to refer to the deeper interactions on the InterWeb, an arena of discussion and information exchange that is set in opposition to Social Media, which is a 140 character/picture laden version of "Fire And Forget" technology. Social Media involves throwing things up and out and then responding in short bursts or immediately moving on to "The Next Big Thing"; the Social Internet involves talking about and exchanging views about things, perhaps not always with a resolution.
My example -and why it struck me this week - was my post on having to deal with mice.
I posted my issue and the little bit I was doing. What I received in return was a bevy of helpful suggestions, not only in how to deal with the problem but (perhaps more importantly) how to deal with a change in my thinking, from cute "Ratatouille-esque" Disney Characters to the bringer of war, disease, famine, and death (in other words, The Riders of The Apocalypse are apparently mice). The remarkably odd thing about this - and what makes it very non-Social Media - is that in none of this was there any sort of berating about "How did you let this happen?" or "Why do think about things this way?" or "By The Great Jehovah, you are an idiot for doing it that way". Just helpful suggestions and support on how to deal with a problem which is apparently a great deal more widespread than I had thought.
This is the power of the Social Internet.
I have seen it time and time again:
- In people sharing their ongoing projects which either informs those that have never done such a thing or creates a feedback loop where they can get suggestions;
- In people writing of history (their own or others) that helps people learn more or draw connections and understand how people, places, or movements got to where they are;
- In people sharing their struggles and finding both support and experience from those who have gone through similar things.
I do not discount that perhaps such things are possible on Social Media - but they are not possible in the same way. Seldom can one post an actual thought process, information ask, or struggle on any of the Social Media platforms and get the same thing. If lucky, one gets a number of "hearts" or short supportive comments. But nothing like what I have seen with The Social Internet.
It encourages me. It encourages me that there are any number of people out there who are deep, thoughtful, and willing to share their own information and in some ways, their own lives in a way that the current societal standard exchange does not. It encourages me that there are still people out there that can discuss and suggest and not just "react" to a comment or given situation.
It encourages me that such people - you - exist.
If we ever get to more sane and sensible times, I would like to believe that in part, it was because it was revealed that Social Media had nothing to offer but division while the Social Internet had the power to enable actual thought, conversation, and information exchange.
Thank you for being part of this small outpost of the Social Internet.
Your Obedient Servant, Toirdhealbheach Beucail