Tag Archives: Assignments

Why Public Facebook Pages Make Good Friends…

I’m really not a big fan of Facebook.   I joined in 2008 shortly after moving from New Jersey to Texas as a way to stay in contact with my New Jersey friends.  Looking back over my timeline only took a couple of seconds because I so rarely post and didn’t post anything in 2011.  If you have ever seen those articles about the Types of Facebook Users, I am The Shy Retirer – “You know those people who loiter on the fringes of a party or conversation and contribute so little that they might as well not even be there? This type of Facebook user is even more of a non-entity, with weeks or months elapsing between blips of activity” (http://www.splicetoday.com/digital/the-31-types-of-facebook-users).   This is so funny to me because in real life I am the farthest thing from the Shy Retirer.  I am the person who mingles with everyone, telling funny stories, in the conversational loop, bringing others into the loop and generally having a blast.  But on Facebook I am a Shy Retirer, which is really just a nice way of saying a stalker/lurker.

So I asked myself, “Why do I find it so easy to socialize in person, but impossible on Facebook?”  I don’t really have an answer.  I think the answer lies somewhere between being afraid of being boring and seeming narcissistic.  And then there is the fact that I don’t really feel like I’m friends with some of these people anymore and don’t think they’ll care too much about what I have to say.  And finally there is the fear that something I write might offend someone so it’s easier to just keep my mouth shut. However, when I read my friends posts I don’t particularly think of them as either boring or narcissistic.  Their posts are usually a good blend of interesting and amusing, sometimes mundane, sometimes bragging, but all in reasonable limits.  Other people think everyone on Facebook is their friend who cares and they don’t seem to worry about offending.  So what’s wrong with me?

And, I’ll admit I sometimes feel isolated and depressed when on Facebook.  Everyone else seems to have more fun and interesting lives and things to say.  This description from Stephen Marche’s 2012 Atlantic Monthly article, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely,” sums it up well: “Non-personalized use of Facebook – scanning your friends’ status updates and updating the world on your activities via your wall, or what Burke1 calls “passive consumption” or “broadcasting” – correlates to feelings of disconnectedness.  It’s a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear” (p.65).   I do believe Facebook contributes to feelings of loneliness, inferiority, and disconnectedness.  I have felt these feelings while on Facebook and I am an outgoing, confident, well-liked person with a pretty terrific life.

However, I had a major revelation while conducting my social media evaluation on the Harris County Public Library (HCPL) – when I look at the HCPL Facebook page I feel happy, included, welcome, inspired, informed, and part of a community.  How strange?  Why would I feel more comfort and enjoyment with an institution than with my own friends?  Well, it is in the public Facebook page’s best interest to be welcoming, informative, humorous and engaging.  And HCPL’s page is all of those things.  The public Facebook page is like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men – it wants us to like it, it needs us to like it.  Through Facebook, HCPL tells me things I want to know, asks for my thoughts, connects with me through our shared love of books and libraries, and always invites me to the party.  Who wouldn’t “Like” a friend like that?

  1.  Moira Burke ran a longitudinal study of 1,200 Facebook users to examine the effects of Facebook over time.

Marche, S. (2012, May).  Is Facebook making us lonely?.  The Atlantic Monthly, 309(4), 60-69

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Authors and Libraries on Tumblr

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Tumblr,as I’m sure many of its users do. As stated on the Tumblr community guidelines page, Tumblr “celebrates creativity. We want you to express yourself freely and use Tumblr to reflect who you are, and what you love, think, witness, and believe.”  The website was created in February 2007 and currently hosts an estimated 93.1 million blogs, including the blogs of celebrities such as Lady Gaga and President Barack Obama.

I have recently returned to using Tumblr after a year hiatus. The site can become overwhelming.  Your Dashboard shows every post that has been posted by you and the users that you follow since you last visited the site in an endless scroll.  This means that if you follow 20 people who post often and don’t visit the site for several hours, you likely have hundreds of new posts to view.  It doesn’t help that a lot of posts can be childish jokes or just a picture of that one actor in that one movie, and OMG isn’t he hot?

But the other side of Tumblr can actually be a great place for authors to connect with their fanbase.  For instance, I follow John Green, author of young adult novels and a youtube star, on Tumblr.  John Green is a master at using social media to connect with his fanbase.  On Tumblr, he answers fan questions, reblogs fantastic fanart based on his books, and post random things that he finds funny with added commentary written by him.  All of these actions serve to help his fans feel like they are important and that he appreciate them.

I feel that this is a model that more authors, especially young adult and children’s authors, should follow.  While most authors have their own website, it is more welcoming to young fans to be able to get to know their favorite authors via a social forum they already use, such as Tumblr, which is much more interactive than the usual author website.

Libraries can also reach out to the younger generation this way, by posting book recommendations and trivia.  It would also be a good forum for the library to get ideas on what programs and events people want to see at their local library.  It would be good to see the slower world of books and libraries get caught up in the faster pop-culture world of Tumblr.

DFTBA

Erin

(Here’s a link in which John green talks about how Tumblr connected him to fans on 2 different continents to collaborate on making a poster based on of his books a reality: http://youtu.be/tHp3c9ziIq0)