Friday, March 22, 2013

how to be genuine (on facebook)

Academic post alert! I'm currently studying "how online social networks have transformed the dynamics of personal interaction, organizational behavior, marketing, branding, social mobilization, and civic action" in a class of mine. Part of the coursework involves blogging about the articles we read and discussions we have. Below, you'll find just that. I encourage you to contribute your thoughts, too.
At 11:38pm I received this text: "We apologise that flight FR9145 has been cancelled..." It was from RyanAir, the airline I'd expected to fly me out from Paris to Porto the following morning. I immediately and simultaneously applied for a refund and booked a replacement on TAP. Forty five minutes later, as I tried falling asleep, I started crying. I was scared. A few months ago this trip to Portugal was supposed to be a romantic one. Now, I was leaving alone, arriving alone, experiencing the first four days by myself. Thank goodness my boyfriend was with me at that moment to comfort me. Six hours later, I left my apartment for the airport. But after a 20-minute wait, I found out the buses weren't running. Another 20-minute wait revealed that taxis weren't driving to the airport either. Although I was well-versed with alternative methods, after rushing from the metro onto the RER, a delay greeted me at the OrlyVal shuttle. I was 30 minutes late to the check-in desk. Fortunately, they didn't mind. By 1pm that afternoon, I was in Portugal, as planned.
Say I were to have uploaded a photo at my arrival. If you had happened to be on Facebook at that time, you wouldn't have had any idea as to how difficult it had been for me to get there. All you would've seen were the sunny skies, palm trees, and colorful city of Porto. "How lucky Danielle is," you may have thought.
Yes, spending 8 days traveling throughout Portugal was certainly a very fortunate adventure to have, even if I did get very sick in the midst of it. Even so, I propose the hypothetical situation to bring about conversation about authenticity (or lack thereof, intentional or not) on Facebook. And why I'm going to delete my page.
Food for thought from a Wired article:
"Think about the last time you updated your Facebook status. You probably edited that snippet of text a dozen times to get every word just right. And then, right before you posted it--cursor hovering over the Share button--you likely considered how your friends were going to react.
'People are going to Like this,' you thought. 'Maybe I'll even get a few comments.'
Now, how many times have you run that same internal monologue before blurting out your opinion during a face-to-face chat with your best friend? I'm taking bets on the answer. And my money is on never."
I don't know about you, but I could completely relate... and not just the bit about friends either--"Your real friend would call you in tears to pick her up from a car accident; your Facebook friend would simply post a photo of her cast and a sad-face emoticon--which I've spoken about before. What I find most disappointing is the truth in that, "all that really counted was your initial post and how it affected everyone's opinion of you." Especially because ever since I created my Facebook page in June, that's been more of a concern for me.
And I don't want it to be. Sure, I'm concerned about my online reputation (as I should be) but with this blog, I simply intend to share my thoughts and experiences with a community of engaged readers. On Twitter, I tweet worthwhile articles I've actually read along with real photos and authentic updates in 140 characters. On Pinterest, I pin places I'd really like to visit, recipes I'd genuinely like to make, and pieces I'd honestly want to fill a hypothetical home with. I may not reveal everything, all the time, but I truly want my social media presence to be an extension of myself... not a fabrication of someone "better."
I don't believe Facebook can help me with that intention. According to a NYTimes article, I may be onto something: "Scholars say the mainstreaming of massive social networking and dating sites--which make it easy to publicly share one's likes, dislikes, dreams and losses in a modern mutation of the Proust Questionnaire--is prompting more people to 'perform' for one another in increasingly sophisticated ways."
So why doesn't critical ol' me just delete my personal profile? Because I'm living abroad. Because I want to be able to see my little brother's status update and the photo my best friend was just tagged in. Not to mention the fact that the Paris expat community tends to use Facebook as a means for group communication.
What does this mean for you? Well, maybe nothing at all. But it might mean that you're no longer going to be able to venture from Facebook to a new post on danielle abroad. And I would hate to lose your readership because of such a silly thing; especially with the demise of Google Reader 'round the corner. May I kindly suggest you consider Bloglovin as an alternative? Or better yet, as my friend Holly suggested, feedly?
For as pessimistic as it may seem I feel about social networking, I do believe it can foster worthwhile connection and conversation; the more diverse, the better. As I read in an article on Undercurrent
"Business people with entropic networks were three times more innovative than people with predictable networks. Because they interacted with lots of different folks they were exposed to a much wider rage of ideas and 'non-redundant information.' Instead of getting stuck in the rut of conformity--thinking the same tired thoughts as everyone else--they were able to invent startling new concepts."
I'd even argue that such theories can apply to everyone; and I'll continue to blog, tweet, and pin to prove it.
On a lighter note, Portugal was amazing. Stay tuned for posts about Porto (the photos you see above were taken over the course of two beautiful days), plus Pinhao, Óbidos, Nazare, Pombal, and Lisbon. To say it's been a whirlwind of an 8 day-spring break is an understatement :). Wishing you a genuinely happy spring.

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