Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In praise of 'active participation'

There’s a social media divide. Although I’d like to call it a 3-way-split. There are:
  1. Those people who do not participate and are contentious objectors. 
  2. Those who are ‘watchers’ and whose level of participation is almost solely limited to cyber-stalking others (take my husband for example, who no longer accesses his own Facebook account but uses mine to see what people are posting but doesn’t comment or ‘like’ to acknowledge that he has engaged with what he has seen/read). 
  3. Those who actively participate. You know who you are. And if you’re a ‘watcher’ you know who those people are as well, because you see all the status updates, ‘like’-ing, posting of photos and commenting that occurs in your news feed.

So why bother identifying these three factions? 

I cop it a bit from my family regarding my use of Facebook. I’ve also been involved in a number of discussions with people about the value/dangers of social media, and I think that to some degree that Facebook et al have been unfairly stigmatised. While I do acknowledge the inherent dangers associated with social media, and I admit that Scott and I will have some big decisions to make in future years when BigMan and LittleLady want to get in on the fun, I also want to say a big thank you.

Thank you Facebook for allowing me to remain in contact so easily with my precious family and friends-who-are-family down in Brisbane. I know that without the aid of Facebook we still would have managed to keep in touch, however it would have been much more challenging, far less frequent and exceedingly less comprehensive. 

Mostly, I would like to stay thank you to my friends (and family) – new and old – who allow me to see that I am not alone. I could get very deep and sentimental here, but I just want to take this opportunity to acknowledge that there are women up here in Townsville who have become very, very good friends of mine and it is in no small part because of our ability to interact via Facebook and blogs.

I know critiques of social media say that ‘screen-time’ has had a negative impact on real face-to-face friendships, but I beg to differ. If my friends and I could only interact with one another at Church and at Playgroup then what likelihood is there of any real friendship developing in between, ‘BigMan, GET DOWN!’, ‘Let me just go wipe up her vomit’ and ‘Where’s he gone? Is the gate outside shut? Better go check.’ Rather, our face-to-face interactions are enriched by our Facebook interactions throughout the week. We know when someone’s had no sleep for three nights. We know when one of the gorgeous bubbas is getting teeth/giving solids a go/learning how to crawl/stand up. We know when someone’s just been doing it tough, or when someone is having issues associated a certain obsession with Easter egg wrappers.

So anyway, thanks ladies. You make me smile and you let me know I’m not alone.

When we exchange manly handshakes, compete in races, join together to save one of us who is in trouble, cry aloud for help in the hour of danger – only then do we learn that we are not alone on earth.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery


  1. Wonderful :) It's always good to see I'm not the only one excited by half price Easter eggs, and to see that someone (wink wink) is even more fascinated by the pretty shiny paper! We LOVE you Mummy McT!

    But yes, seriously I too think facebook and blogs etc let us delve deeper into each other, and honestly, if you don't want people to know, then don't tell! I don't think it's good for children because they don't know yet what they want the world to know and how to censor themselves. I think that's one of the stigmas you talked about. That somehow facebook has a magical power to get inside your brain and tell everyone your deepest darkest secrets.

    I was just thinking about it this morning while I changed Eli's nappy. How lonely would we be if we can't keep in touch from home. We go out soooo much, the kids have such social lives, but sometimes I just need to be home to do housework. And when our social lives are dictated by when someone needs to go potty, needs some vomit cleaned up etc etc, we don't really get to connect. Now I'm just repeating you! Sorry.

    I'll just say I agree 100% :D

  2. Sorry, I would have commented a month ago when you posted this but I got distracted by something... oooh, shiiiiny... what was I saying???

    oh yeah, I need to buy some purple cups so my dishwasher looks right too...

    That's what this post was about wasn't it?