Thinking Out Loud

Be gentle in this age of social expression

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[Thinking Out Loud]

'scream and shout' by Mindaugas Danys on Flickr
‘scream and shout’ by Mindaugas Danys on Flickr

There is a difference between who you are and what you do. A chasm between being and doing.

It can take a lifetime to learn who you are, but we learn this by being verb. We learn the ‘who-ness” by continually giving continual expression through doing. [And we learn this in pause and reflection.]

In drawing, writing, photographing, crafting, creating and through labour [‘arbeid’] we momentarily lose ourselves to find ourselves again. So we tweet, we draw, we write, we photograph and then we pause.

And we can come back and look on a body of action – a stream of Twitter, a month of Instagram, a year of Facebook and we can see with some detachment how we present ourselves to the world.

When we see ourselves in the rear view mirror – in reflection – can ask ourselves questions about how much closer or further we are to self. How much we’ve changed. How much more we want to change. What we’ve done, and who we want to be.

We can be the same. Or we can change. And if we want to change is social media expression useful? Transformation is movement, so perhaps it becomes easier to see the self in reflection – in the reflection of movements and cycles and seasons.

What’s useful about social media is that it can show these movements. Social offers a record of data over time. In that way social media can be useful for self-reflection, although it is merely an aspect of self, rather than one’s self.

Should we have rules or guides for social media?

1. The best part of life is boundless discovery. I think that this should apply to the social self. There should be no rules or guides for the social self. All we need to know, really, is the hinge of action and consequence. But it might be useful to know that social can be a loudhailer and a microscope, a place where we can be amplified and inspected.

2. If there are skills to be learned to become better at being social, surely these skills are play, curiosity and the tools of expression. We reveal our true nature in play. We find ourselves in curiosity. Play and curiosity are also very useful states for collaboration, sharing an discovery. So perhaps learning to be social is about creating states in which we can play and be curious.

3. If there are any guides [I prefer thinking about social guides, rather than rules], these should be the basic concepts for social interaction that toddlers are taught at play school:
– We listen carefully,
– We are polite and show respect,
– We don’t waste our own, or others time,
– We are gentle, we don’t hurt others.

[My thanks to Dave Duarte (@DaveDuarte) for our discussions on social media, and for his thinking on social media which, in part, gave rise to this piece.]