My love affair with the digital world
I tried to disconnect from my digital world one day a few weeks ago. I lasted from 10am until approximately 3.30pm. After less than six hours, I was back on Twitter, tweeting about an overpriced cheesecake I had purchased from a cafe in a less than overpriced suburb, and I had a photo to prove it.
A couple of years ago, I was vaguely into Facebook. I was a blogger, so was not completely devoid of social networking experience. I had a reasonable knowledge of building and maintaining a website, which often came in handy. Then I took a contract, where much of job was working on the Facebook and MySpace pages for the company. I developed an instant appreciation for how social media could build the profile of a business. People loved their photos being on the site, and regularly shared them with their friends. Subscribers grew, and company communications became digital missives to a tribe, and hence much more personal and relevant. I learned that social media is a powerful force whose reach should not be underestimated.
When I initially started dabbling in Facebook, Twitter was just a blip on the radar. YouTube was purely for entertainment, and (more often then not) just plain silly. The iPhone had hardly left the factory. App wasn’t even a word in our vocabulary. In the space of a couple of years, the smartphone has revolutionised the way we experience and interact with the world. I can access the web from anywhere, any time. This means I can talk to people anywhere, anytime. I can tap into information and knowledge anywhere, anytime. I can share my world, my views, my opinions and the information that I value with my digital friends – and they with me – anywhere, anytime. Wow. Who saw that coming?
But what I’m finding fascinating is that the digital world is dovetailing, integrating and melding with the “real” world. The digital acquaintances I have made through Twitter have spilled over into lunches, coffees and catchups. Tweetups* have been organised and attended. Faces, names and avatars have been matched (Ah! So you are blah blah!). Business cards swapped. Life stories told (but not all the time). There is convergence, and it’s good!
Interestingly, “old” media consistently puts the social web into the Naughty Corner. They simultaneously fear it and are threatened by it. So they choose not to understand it. And they write about the digital world being the spawn of the devil. And some people believe them.
But rather than demonising social media, why aren’t we (as a society) celebrating its possibilities? I’ve never known journalists, for example, to regularly open up their world to (and make the acquaintance of!) complete strangers, unless, of course, there’s a story in it! The social web can see strangers fund micro-businesses in developing countries, and online protestors change a major corporation’s use of palm oil. Yes, there’s a seedy and dangerous side that shouldn’t be underplayed or ignored, but I love the altruism and generous possibilities that the internet offers. People who have been arrested in angry countries have been freed because of a tweet.
So it is for all these reasons – and more – I will continue my love affair with the digital world, where I am informed, connected and entertained. I tweet, therefore I am.
*A group of like-minded individuals on Twitter who catch up regularly (or even irregularly!) on a face-to-face basis.