Facebook Chronicles: The Ordeal

by Barb Cashman on June 19, 2012

Whoa, we’re still in the cave, and now it’s ogre time! Or not. But this is no cake walk; in fact, the definition of ordeal is “a difficult or painful experience, especially one that severely tests character or endurance.” Sounds pretty mythic in proportion, no?

Let’s get started – this is about taking “networking” to the next level.  Remember that networking is merely the first step and is designed to be followed by coordination, cooperation and finally collaboration, according to  Howard Rheingold’s “Net Smart.”

First, an aside – I attended a CLE recently that featured a speaker who talked about social media.  You might imagine my disappointment that the speaker recommended lawyers use Facebook’s  “artist, band, or public figure” page instead of a business page that could facilitate actual interaction with other people.  But isn’t that the idea of engaging in social media?   I thought his recommendation was a bit like “fat-free ice cream,” but that’s just me. Here’s a “how to” page for that if you’re interested in getting onto Facebook in a flak jacket.

So back to our ordeal, shall we battle a five-headed hydra – like the pretty green one above?  Sticking with that theme of five,  let’s do a recap of how we find ourselves in this cave in the midst of this ordeal (back to our five literacies).

1. Attention!   Yes, this Internet thing is inherently distracting, so test your resolve to say “no” and focus. This means in getting to the stuff that we actually want, we have to know what we want (hey, that reminds me of another Joe Jackson song!)   We started with the whole challenge of getting online and managing our “info-tention” appropriately. To do this, we need to identify our goals and priorities, the path to what we want that will enable us to filter out the noise, and focus in a mindful sort of way (think about paper-training a puppy).

2. Utilize you carp detector, er – I mean crap detector.  You didn’t think I was just going to say “use the force” did you?  In the online world you can find just about anything, so be skeptical and know how to apply your skepticism in appropriate and useful ways by using search tools to assist you.  Beware of the filter bubble! (Remember DuckDuckGo?)  When you do get to the good stuff, know how to store it and share it in ways that suit your needs.

3. Appropriate participation. In order to be part of the collaborative culture of the Internet, you need to participate and please remember to assume goodwill and give folks the benefit of the doubt. Effective participation means taking your mindfulness skill to new levels, being aware of your digital footprints, “think before you post,” and occasionally pointing your crap detector back at yourself.

4. Colloborate to amplify collective action. Remember The Inmost Cave’s reference to Professor Benkler’s “Wealth of Networks?” This collaboration is the linchpin for the vast majority of the revolution that Internet communication provides to thinking, being, and doing in today’s world. It is changing everything – even if you are not otherwise actively participating in the change.

5. Use your network smarts. If you are part of a network that you care about, remember the importance of small talk, trust building, and reciprocity. Paying it forward is a good idea, too!  Social media allows us to reach out to people to seek support, information, and a sense of community among loosely bound groups as well as more tightly knit ones, and these can be small or large numbers. Don’t forget the mindfulness training in this context.

So you can see that we have five arrows in our social media-savvy quiver that we can use to slay the five-headed hydra. Alas, there may be trolls, pixies, pranks, and punks, along with the scams and plenty of spam along our journey – but know that we can get around these things, even if they are distasteful.

I am speaking from experience here – my old AOL address (it’s been mostly dormant for several months) was hacked last weekend. I spammed myself! That was bad enough, but I heard from lots of people wondering about my endorsement of Fox News, and whether I thought they looked fat in that dress (weight loss aids). I felt a little violated, but I know that this has happened to many others as well, and there are immediate and appropriate measures to take to fix the problem. We have to do our best to keep ourselves and others safe on this playground – walking away is not an option for (the vast majority) of us.

Until our next (and final) installment …

Read more about Barb’s Facebook Chronicles here. Hydra image from americantribune.org.

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