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Archive for May, 2010

Social Media and Networking- Are We All Becoming Idiots?

I have heard about, read, watched and pondered deeply about people declaring that Facebook, Twitter and Blogging is destroying our brains. Where has reading gone? Why don’t kids play anymore, or old folks gather to play chess? What about college students meeting for coffee to discuss the unique relationship dynamics between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre?

I have a bachelors degree in History, Political Science, and English, with a minor in Philosophy and a MA in Social Anthropology, am I allowing a finely tuned noggin to turn to dust by permissing myself to be immersed in these new fangled Social Media Networks?

During a discussion with one of the countries greatest Social Media minds, Chris Pirillo, a week or two ago, I caught myself admitting that Twitter has forced me to re-think making a point. It has conditioned me to make my point quickly, clearly, and in a way most everyone can understand. As an English major, and someone who has been public speaking and teaching for many years, this was an interesting revelation to me. I also feel that my years of archival research experience were a joke compared to the access of information I have now, the type of information, and who it is coming from. OK, so maybe the content has changed a bit… but so has my life. I went from 15 hour nights spent in the NYU library ten years ago, researching one question I had about Elenore Roosevelt’s involvement with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to tweeting “What’s the best Banana bread recipe” last night, and getting 30 answers in 10 seconds.

It is obvious that the type of information we get from each other over these social spaces is quite different than the information found in archives and the works of Nietzsche, Marx and The American Anthropological Association, but who cares! The information is relevant and applies to our every day lives… and it comes real time! I have not lost the book worm nerd in me… the girl who reads Shakespeare well into the night, just because I tweet. If anything, I have exponential access to new information, not to mention friends and connections with people who I truly believe “are there for me”. I write this, by the way, as I eat a banana muffin- the recipe of the grandmother of someone I have never met who is on Twitter. It’s the best muffin I’ve ever had. Her name was “Grandma Jo”.  A few key take-home points: 1. I like muffins. 2. I am not an idiot, and neither are you, we just like to tweet and connect on Facebook.

“Not everyone would think that the actor Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter musings on his daily doings constitute part of “the universal body of human knowledge.” But the Library of Congress, the 210-year-old guardian of knowledge and cultural history, thinks so”. See HERE for a recent New York Times article about Twitter and historical archiving.