Thursday, April 26, 2012

Essay: Sharing to the point of caring

There's been a lot of debate on the internet lately around the idea that 'facebook is making us lonely'.  I don't believe that for a second.  We're in a world now that challenges us to share everything, to engage and re-engage in specific ways, ways that we might not have been able to do before.

Music is one such way.  Back in the early 2000's file-sharing connected me to a world I'd never even dreamed of, one I couldn't have predicted.  Through links and reviews, music was shared to me and it not only opened up my perception of what music was and could be, it blew open my perspective of the world.

The explosion of global connections through the internet paved the way for social media platforms.  Sites like Facebook and Myspace started connecting us not only with music around the world, but also people, some of whom we had never met and may never meet.

We shared with them an online version of ourselves.  Our favourite music initially, followed by our favourite everything, listed beautifully on our info page, and fleshed out through photo albums that slowly built our online chronology.

When Twitter exploded on to the scene around the time I-phones came out, our obsession with sharing suddenly became mobile.  We found we could share in different ways, sometimes in 140 characters and sometimes through funny cat memes.

So now, in 2012, we've all established our online personality.  Some of the connections we have with others may solely be through tweets, some through instagram photo's and some might even be through location-based battles (foursquare).  A lot of those connections only exist in the online world, and a lot of the reason is because in our real world circles - the circles that encourage long hours of work or study, looking after children or lengthy commutes - we don't have time to meet these people face-to-face.

But we may meet these people face-to-face, and we have met them face-to-face, and the variety and randomness of these connections is what keeps us sharing.  Maybe the photo of the pumpkin under the footbridge will inspire someone to check out my portfolio and chase my business, or perhaps that congratulatory tweet will be embraced so much by its subject that they give me a lifetime supply of free passes to their tv show (Love you @catdeeley).

Social Media encourages connections.  Soundcloud is hosting music from local artists, whose links are in turn being passed around facebook and twitter with ease, creating an instant community of fans.  Vimeo and Youtube give the inner-geeks somewhere to showcase their unique view of the world, the truely creative are rewarded in kind.

Embrace the real world and the online world, and don't afraid to blur the lines.  It's what makes life fun.

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