Virtual Connections

4th January 2015

TEXTING: RESPONDING IN THE MOMENT

The creative and connective possibilities of texting delight and engage me. Earlier this evening, I was on a bus journey home from visiting a friend on the coast. The moon was gold and low in the sky, and so huge that I was prompted to send out a text to a few friends who  are similarly moon-inspired:

Wow! Huge golden moon alert! Wonderful skylamp 🙂 . Can you see it too?x

Within twenty minutes or so, a number of responses arrived, full of wonder and playfulness, They varied from “Just went outside. What a vision” to observations such as “Yep, near red here!” and “Are u sure it’s not the fairy on top of the tree? And a few wee sherries????”

Then there was the poetic “Yes, it’s just coming up over the nearby rooves while the sky opposite is still streaked with sunset pink and owl calling in the woods. A fine moment! xx” (Mary Hamilton).

It delights me to think how texting, sometimes maligned for causing a plague of bad spelling and lazy communication, can make connections, create shared experiences and evoke close observation and humour.

Do you have any examples of this?

29th December 2014

FACEBOOK CONNECTIONS

As a South African living in Northern Ireland with family and friends in South Africa, other parts of the UK, Australia, Canada, Europe and the US, I appreciate Facebook. I  enjoy the vignettes of others’ lives, the moments of joy and celebration which they represent. I love seeing  the new babies and watching how they grow and change. Facebook connects me.

As a member of a choir, I belong to a closed Facebook group. Our page fosters the development of our community: it informs about concerts and rehearsals, gives us links to songs which we can practise, shares posts about the gifts and benefits of singing.

It seems to me that Facebook, with the possibilities for communication and self-representation which it offers, has created a range of identities and discourses which we can adopt.

I am delighted that some of my friends manifest the Teacher archetype:  they put up inspiring quotations, videos and links.  There are also the Proud Parents and those who use Facebook to affirm their delight in their friends.   Then there is the Jester, with quips and jokes.   Some of these are about language and contemporary events. A few, sadly, are sexist or racist. I hide these or delete them.   At times I might feel strongly enough about them to adopt a Whistleblower stance. Some of my friends do a good deal of whistleblowing, using Facebook for taking a stand about issues such as racism in Northern Ireland, sexual violence against women,  child abuse, cruelty towards animals. I must confess that I have unfriended some people who in their fervour about a cause have made many posts which offend me and might well offend other people.   For instance, I will not allow space to those who put the lives of unborn foetuses before those of their ill or conflicted mothers.

I observe that Facebook arouses strong emotions in me: joy, delight, passion, indignation. I admire those who identify causes; I am delighted by beautiful images; I feel passionate about injustices.  I have very little time for another identity which Facebook seems to cultivate: the Woe is Me Whinger. I am definitely not the only person who thinks that Facebook cultivates narcissism as well as positive connections.

These are just my initial thoughts about Facebook identities and discourses. Please share yours!  Another facet of Facebook which interests me is the spelling/ punctuation/ language. What are your views?

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3 thoughts on “Virtual Connections

  1. Interesting reflections! I find it fascinating how people use social media to carve out a space for themselves. The best ones delight and remain true to the character of those who produce them. The sad ones seem to be crying out to have their needs met

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  2. I so agree Shelley. My friends and family are spread all over the world and FB is a great way to stay connected and share family news. I posted a photo of guests at my wedding in 1979 and had comments from all over the world within a few hours–Wendy Cayless in Australia, Kim from the UK.,and my cousin in Canada. I was so amazed at the response from around the globe!

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  3. I mostly enjoy facebook for keeping up with family and friends. My parents were 50 years married this year, and I scanned and posted photos that some family members had never seen before, and others were delighted to see after so many years. It is a very easy and enjoyable way to share images and information. I also find it useful to keep up with writing based news – though I use twitter for that purpose too. I haven’t had any really negative experiences on facebook, but I do keep my site mostly private, I think about privacy settings before I post, and I don’t really express much in the way of opinion on it. So, maybe that does say something about my fears around it. Or, maybe it’s just my age! But, I certainly have enjoyed your very positive uses of facebook, Shelley – for example, the flower postings.

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