Friday, December 2, 2011

Social Media: The Chicken or the Egg

Soooo.....the other day on Twitter I just happened to see Syfy tweet this*:

This immediately caught my attention because I think it speaks to what the social internet experience is ultimately about: the idea that no one has to be lonely again. You can find someone with your same interests no matter how unusual or rare. I mean I never would have imagined in a million years when I started blogging about books just how universal the experience of being a bookworm was. Or that there were other people who liked to both read and watch TV and didn't consider one or the other a waste of time. The desire for that connection is what drives people first and foremost to the social connections we have available to us online, not necessarily the hunger to find something new.

Of course, all that talking about things on the internet, on the Twitter and Facebook spaces made the people in the business of selling things sit up and take notice and try to figure out how to capitalize on these public places where people were talking. It's really easy after all, to create a Twitter account and engage in a discussion. It's even easier to spam, unfortunately. And that's where the sort of irony is to me, social media takes the painstaking time of building relationships, the careful maintenance of your reputation online and the time to learn the ropes, it's in no way easier or faster than many other ventures, but it is a different opportunity.

So the idea that the product that exists already, i.e. TV driving people online makes so much sense to me. It's how I operate, if I watch a show I love and feel that itch to discuss it more and crack it open and figure it out and understand how other people feel about it, I'll search for it online. It's no secret that I'm obsessive and finding someone in your limited circle of friends in real life that feels the same way can be impossible! But the very fact I'm reading about it online or discussing it with others means that I'm not using that time to watch another show. There are only so many hours in the day and you have to make choices. It works the same with blogging about books of course, the more time you spend discussing your blog and building connections with other bloggers the less time you're actually reading.

But of course at the same time, I can't deny the influence my online connections have had on me in return. My own reading expanded so much because of blogging, I tried so many books I never would have without blogging (and fell madly in love with them!), watched films that often turned out to be my favorites of the year that I would never have heard of without people I met online telling me about them. I definitely feel like what ever originally drove me to seek out a social experience online centered around something I loved in turn led me to many other things I grew to love as well.

One of my big goals for 2011 was to do more social reading and I failed miserably. I had everything in place...the Faith and Fiction round table for example. But the books we chose as a group ended up being really hard for me to get into and the discussions often ended up falling off quickly. I wanted to do two readalongs but ended up only with this one squeezed in at the end of the year, which I'm already behind in. My online book club, comprised primarily of very busy book bloggers, chose books I couldn't always get to easily and stopped meeting early because we simply have too much going on in our lives and difficult time zones to manage. I want to figure out how to remedy this for 2012, to find the right kind of social reading experience. One of the first things I'll be doing is reading and discussing Lilith with Hannah, another thing I failed to do this year! If anyone has any ideas I'd be really open to hearing them! I know there are a few reading circles, but they often choose books I would never read.

I'm curious though as to what you think about this overall. Has the trade-off been worthwhile to you? Do you discover more that you love from online social connections or do you feel like it cuts into your time to do other things you love?


*He was referencing Facebook likes and how the number of likes is proportionate to the length of time the page has been up.

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