Sunday, January 24, 2010

Everything In Moderation.... Including Moderation

While only a couple of days have passed since I wrote my first blog, I had already begun to think about the topic for my next post. Having just wheedled my idea into an appropriate size when a comment was left by my husbands Aunt on an original post via Facebook.

"Good for you Melanie. I liked your first entry. I'm still on the fence about social networking. In a way it is a good way to keep up on what is happening but on the other hand I think it is becomming a substitute for phone calls and having personal contact with people therefore maybe in the long run more alienating. When one is in a room with everyone texting or using the computer it is a real turn-off.

I found this comment thought provoking. In response to these forums "becoming a substitute" I disagree in the sense that we now have multiple channels to be in touch. So depending on your circumstance at that moment determine how you may reach out to someone. There are moments in one's life where all we may have time for is a quick text, email, or IM chat. I know in my own household, with three children it isn't always easy to just pick up the phone and call someone. Children seem to need everything from you the minute you get on the phone. I will admit that more then once I have hidden in my closet hoping that I go undiscovered for the duration of my call, knowing all the while those little voices are closing in on me. Imagine my delight when I was introduced to texting. No one can hear the craziness in the background while sending a text, email or engaging in a quick IM chat.

Also, it is through these social networks that I am able to be part of peoples' lives all year long, instead of the once a year visit or never visiting. I have a sister who lives in southern California and she calls me almost everyday. Our relationship is only enhanced by the fact we also interact regularly on Facebook by sharing comments on photos and status updates. To that end she is my sister and I have never lost touch with her. Now, the real beauty of social networking is that it's given me the ability to connect with people that I haven't seen or heard from since elementary school. I still don't see them nor do I talk with them on the phone but I am connected to them and their lives.

This is where the title of this blog post comes into play. A motto I use regularly in my house with the kids is "Everything in moderation including moderation." I believe each of us entering this world of "social" has a "social responsibility" to know when it is appropriate to be "plugged in" and when it is time to be "unplugged." Sadly, there always seem to be people who don't understand the notion of moderation and therefore will always have trouble with their "social responsibility" and/or their "responsibility to social." So rather then being "turned- off" I simply ask those that I am close with to "turn it off".

photo credit: the bs report

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Makes Social/Communities Important?

As I sit thinking about and reflecting on what my first blog should be, I finding myself asking how did I get here....a blog? When just a little over a year ago I didn't want anything to do with nor did I understand the importance of any social tools. I didn't Facebook, Twitter, or Blog. So the question here is why are these things so important? Before this is answered I think you need to know how I arrived at this place.

Up until pretty recently I would have told you "that isn't my thing", which is particularly interesting given that for the last several years it has been my husbands entire job. If he is everything "Social" I was the anti-social.

It started with Facebook. Without knowing anything I had decided it wasn't for me. Somehow I was talked into having a page. There I was on Facebook. I was a little nervous...which picture do I put up? What do I write about myself? Who do I friend? Who is going to friend me? Then it happened. A couple we me on our honeymoon at this time 11 years earlier friended me. We had tried to keep in touch but with life, growing families, and geography we drifted apart. We lived in Boston, MA and they lived in Calgary, AB Canada. But there it was an opportunity to reconnect and establish a lasting friendship. That was it for me. I now knew and understood the power and hype behind Facebook and was hooked.

Twitter however was something very different for me. "I wasn't ever going to be on Twitter" My husband would gently encourage me. I would always come back with a very strong opinion. "Twitter is very ego centric. Everybody just wants to see how many followers they have and how many people are responding to them" It all seemed to self serving to me.

Soon I knew more and more people who were Tweeting. Funny, they didn't seem ego centric or self serving to me. Then it happened. Oprah joined twitter and tweeted the first time on air. This gave me pause. So VERY humbly I went to my husband and said "it is time, would you set my up on twitter?" I had realized that maybe I have judged this tool to quickly and really needed to experience it for myself. Before I knew it @aaronstrout, my husband, was very graciously giving me a tutorial on Twitter and Tweets.

You are probably thinking but this is a blog - a blog that was tweeted about, has a name and potentially a purpose....what happened?

Here is what happened. I spent some time asking myself "why" why do people Facebook, Twitter and Blog? What I realized is that with the world as big as it is, life moving so very fast, and technology changing daily it is so very easy for people to be forgotten and lost. Swallowed up by the rapid change and movement life brings to us. So it is in my opinion that we do these things to feel connected, to make the world feel a little smaller and give everyone a voice. That is what makes Social/Communities important.

So as I approach 41, am 13 years into my marriage, 10 1/2 years being home full time, and a mother of 3, I simply decided I have some things to say. Now I have a voice.

Melanie Starner Strout (Facebook)
@melaniestrout (twitter)
Not Just Mothering (