Tuesday, 12 January 2016
I kept away from social media yesterday. I felt that my SoMe (social media) communities were engaged in a collective discussion around a topic for which, although I had some sympathy, I was not 'qualified' nor engaged with enough to want to participate in or discuss, nor to raise any other topic which could be construed as 'off message'. The topic, of course, was the death of David Bowie.
This got me thinking about why so many people have a view that social media is 'not for them'; how they feel excluded from 'the club'; that they 'don't have anything to say' in those spaces. I get that. I have found a community - and a voice - in social media, principally in my professional field of Learning & Development, but also in other areas of personal interest. And those communities have been enormously important and supportive to me and my family in this last year, for which I am eternally grateful.
But sometimes, it feels like I'm the only person in the world who hasn't been touched by - or indeed, cares enough about - some events. And that triggers my 'not belonging' injunction, big time. I feel myself drawing back into my shell, wanting to keep my head down, whilst trying to resist an underlying anger and almost contempt for others' genuine and sincere sharing of their individual feelings. This makes me feel even more unworthy and shallow, as though I am lacking in empathy or cultural awareness, whilst all around me are remembering, emoting, respecting and sharing their grief and their loss.
This is difficult stuff, by the way, and I share my thoughts here advisedly. I made the mistake several years ago (2011 in fact) of expressing a contrary view to the death of another cultural icon in a fairly dismissive tweet, and was rightly called out on it. I blogged then about how that changed my perspective and thinking about intent versus impact in social media "What Else I Learned on my Holidays"
Nowadays, I try to exercise consideration (and thereby constraint) in my SoMe activities. I am very conscious of the appropriateness of topic or comment in the face of others' national, community, collective or indeed, individual experience, which is immediate and heartfelt. Whilst I recognise the importance and significance of David Bowie's leadership in our art, music and culture over the last 50 years, and I totally get how important he was to so many people - particularly, it appears, in my SoMe and PLN (Personal Learning Network) communities - and whilst sad for his family, friends and admirers for their loss, I remain pretty untouched by his death.
So I stepped back yesterday and let everyone get on with it. No offence intended. As my Jewish In-Laws say at times like this, I wish you a long life.